cover image Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America

Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America

Andrea Zimmerman, illus. by Ju Hong Chen. Pelican, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58980-954-3

This biography centers on Eliza Scidmore, whose world travels and appreciation for Japanese gardens led her on a campaign to have cherry trees planted in Washington, D.C., in 1912. In a story about maintaining persistence despite rejection, Zimmerman (Digger Man) emphasizes Scidmore's refusal to give up on her "good idea," though each new head of the parks department dismisses it; when First Lady Taft finally embraces Scidmore's plan, the first shipment of trees are infested with bugs and must be burned. Finally, 3,000 healthy cherry trees arrive, and the first two trees are planted in Potomac Park in a modest ceremony. Chen's (The Jade Stone) illustrations merge hints of 19th-century impressionism with dynamic color combinations and hazy representations of the adventurous subject's photography. Though Zimmerman's sentences don't demonstrate much variation in cadence%E2%80%94"Eliza wanted to keep traveling, so she had to find a way. After college, Eliza started writing articles for the newspaper. She worked hard and made good money"%E2%80%94Scidmore's tender story points to the rewards of investing in aesthetic beauty. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Mar.)