Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya

by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson

A heartfelt tribute to Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who founded Kenya’s... read more

A heartfelt tribute to Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who founded Kenya’s Green Belt Movement to combat deforestation, condenses years of activism into a lyrical narrative focusing on Wangari’s impact on both the lives of women and the Kenyan environment. Author Donna Jo Napoli imagines a series of scenes in which women from across Kenya come to Wangari to share their troubles—too little food, too little firewood, dirty water. “Plant a tree,” Wangari tells each one. She suggests a different tree for each trouble—the mukawa thorns will keep predators from chickens; the mukuyu will filter water to clean streams. And she always concludes each encounter with “ thaya nyumba— Peace my people.” Kadir Nelson’s lush illustrations, done with oil paint and printed fabrics, show a greening country and the grace and beauty of those who are bringing it back to life. An afterword and author’s note provide brief, factual information about Maathai as well as sources for this account of her work. (Ages 6–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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