The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

Joseph H Hopkins, Author, H Joseph Hopkins, Author, Jill McElmurry, Illustrator
H. Joseph Hopkins, illus. by Jill McElmurry. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-1402-0
Open Ebook - 32 pages - 978-1-4424-8727-7
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Echoing Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius in artistic style and theme, this picture book biography recalls the life and contributions of a horticulturist in the late 19th century. Kate Sessions populated San Diego’s landscape with not lupines but trees. Her love for nature dated back to her childhood, where, in school, “she liked studying wind and rain, muscles and bones, plants and trees. Especially trees.” McElmurry’s (Mad About Plaid) naïve illustrations are packed with patterns, from the dusty brown houses Sessions views as she docks in San Diego to the teardrop and polka-dot motifs in the trees. Likewise, debut author Hopkins skillfully employs a pattern in his narrative, a catchy refrain that emphasizes Sessions’s can-do attitude: “Not everyone feels at home in the woods. But Kate did.... Most San Diegans didn’t think trees could ever grow there. But Kate did.” Vignettes that include muddy handprints, labeled plant cell parts, and trees subtitled with their Latin names complement the larger gouache spreads, and a concluding note explains more about the inspirational spirit and work of a pioneering arborist. Ages 5–10. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)
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