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Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Jeanette Winter, Author . Harcourt $17 (0p) ISBN 978-0-15-206545-4

Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner whose Green Belt Movement has planted 30 million trees in Kenya, is the subject of Winter’s (The Librarian of Basra ) eloquent picture biography. Much like Claire Nivola’s recent Planting the Trees of Kenya , this work, for a slightly younger audience, introduces Wangari as a child, “liv[ing] under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya.” The tightly focused text moves quickly without sacrificing impact. Wangari earns a scholarship to study in the U.S., and when she returns after six years, she’s stunned—setting down her luggage in a veritable wasteland, extending her palms as if imploring someone to answer her unspoken questions: “What has happened? ... Where are the trees? ”She plants seedlings in her own backyard—a small start that eventually inspires thousands of others (and, perhaps, the reader) to emulate her. Winter’s images appear in framed, same-size squares on each page, creating a flat, frieze-like effect that pays off as Wangari’s movement grows and the activities within each frame multiply—a powerful demonstration of Wangari’s work. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
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