Growing up in the shadow of Mount Kenya in Africa, Wangari is surrounded by an umbrella of green trees. The trees protect the birds, provide firewood to the women of the village and help keep the soil rich for the sweet potatoes, sugarcane and maize Wangari helps to harvest.
Wangari travels to America for school but when she returns six years later the trees are gone. No crops grow, the birds are gone and the women have to travel far distances to find firewood. On World Environment Day in 1977, Wangari plants nine seedlings in her backyard and begins the Green Belt Movement which, over the next 27 years, plants thirty million trees across Africa.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a true story from Africa is the story of one woman’s effort to return green to Africa. Told in Jeanette Winter’s simple language and blocky, colourful illustrations, Wangari’s Trees of Peace is wonderful means to introduce 3 to 7 year olds to environmentalism, the interconnected nature of ecosystems and political activitism. It also introduces some difficult subjects that may make some children and parents uncomfortable: prejudice (“Women can’t do this”), violence (“Wangari blocks their way, so they hit her with clubs”) and imprisonment (“They call her a troublemaker and put her in jail”).
While Winter’s tale simplifies Wangari’s story to a basic level, it carries within it an important message, that one person can make a difference. Wangari’s simple act of planting a tree translates to an important environmental movement and the Nobel Peace Prize. Children are innate idealists and it is never too early to foster their belief that they can achieve anything.
In keeping with the environmental nature of Wangari’s Trees of Peace, the book is printed on 100% recycled paper with 50% postconsumer waste.
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date: September 21, 2008