Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Translated by Dominique Clément
Charlesbridge Publishing, January 2015.
Nobel Peace Prize winning environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai said, “Trees are living symbols of peace and hope.” The trees that she and her Green Belt Movement planted are more than symbols, they are the result of the hard work of the women she enlisted to replant Kenya’s forests, replenish the wildlife, and instill democracy among the people.
This simply told story begins with Wangari’s childhood at the foot of the volcano Mount Kenya where, as the oldest child in her family, her responsibility was to stay home and help her mother. But when the chance to go to school presented itself, she ran there. In the 1960s, she was awarded the opportunity to travel to the US to study, and there she saw that even in the land of the free, there were still places that black people were not welcome.
Returning home, Wangari was determined to help her people and her country. She recognized that the deforestation by plantation owners and politicians building cities was at the root of her country’s devastation. Her courage and confidence carried her through obstacles thrown up by her adversaries.
Aurélia Fronty’s beautiful illustrations show readers the color and diversity of Wangari’s Africa — the green trees and the flowering trees full of birds, monkeys, and other animals; the roots that dig deep into the earth; and the people who work and live on the land. Wangari Maathai changed the way the world thinks about nature and ecology, and about freedom and democracy.
"Dramatic and dreamlike paintings celebrate Nobel Peace Prize–winner Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt movement. As a child in Kenya, Maathai learned the importance of nurturing forests, and after receiving her high-school diploma “at a time when very few African women even learn[ed] to read,” she traveled to the U.S. There, she studied the connections between environmental destruction, poverty, and oppression before returning to Kenya: “She asks that people think about the future even if the present is harsh and difficult.” Fronty’s fluid artwork incorporates organic motifs and African textile patterns to stirring effect, and extensive appended materials offer powerful supplemental information to conclude this standout tribute to Maathai’s perseverance and hard-won successes."
— Publishers Weekly
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