Monday, April 20, 2015
Earth Day ~ Wangari Maathai
by Franck Prevot; illus by Aurelia Fronty
48 pages; ages 6-9
Earth Day is Wednesday, and what better way to celebrate than to read about a real Earth hero. Wangari Maathai is known as the woman who encouraged other women to plant trees. She was born in a tiny village in Kenya, and learned to dig and plant her gardens in the shade of the big mugumo - a fig tree. Her mother taught her that a tree is worth more than its wood- wisdom Wangari remembered for the rest of her life.
Wangari is a fortunate daughter; she is sent to school. She attends college in the US, and when she returns to Kenya she sees that forests have been cut and wildlife is rare. Small farms have given way to large plantations, families can no longer grow food to feed their children, and rivers run muddy. Wangari sees her country eroding before her eyes. What can she do?
She begins planting trees. Traveling from village to village, she speaks on behalf of the trees, and the animals, and the children. She asks people to think of the future, and creates tree nurseries to provide women with saplings. She starts the Green Belt movement. Tree by tree the women plant forests. But that is not enough.
Wangari tells the president that he must stop cutting trees to put up buildings. She is threatened and jailed but still she believes that trees are important. She dreams that one day Kenya's children will be able to play in forests. She is the "mother of forests" and in 2004 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Review copy from local library.