Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai

by Claire A. Nivola

As a child in the highlands of Kenya, Wangari Maathai did not know that she would... read more

As a child in the highlands of Kenya, Wangari Maathai did not know that she would grow up to be the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She only knew that she cared for the emerald-covered earth where fig trees, olive trees, crotons, and flame trees grew as far as the eye could see. Wangari left Kenya as a young woman to study biology in the United States. When she returned home, only five years later, she barely recognized the landscape she loved. Small farms that had once dotted the hillsides had expanded; large plantations had been established. As far as Wangari could see, dusty brown earth and tree stumps littered the land. The economy and landscape had changed drastically, and not for the better—Kenya was suffering. Wangari decided to plant trees. She urged women and children to plant trees as well, and taught them how. With delicate, detailed paintings and thoughtful prose, Claire A. Nivola conveys the challenges Wangari Maathai faced in the development of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement. Since Wangari began her work thirty years ago, more than thirty million trees have been planted in her country. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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