Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
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Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
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A beautiful story describing the Green Belt Movement started in Kenya by Wangari Muta Maathai who was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004) for working to revitalize a deforested Kenya.

While the movement was a grassroots movement organized by this woman politician, this picture book tells the story as if Wangari is a town elder who gives advice to women who travel from all over the country for her help. It captures the spirit of the African culture--specifically the Kenyan...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I didn't like Kadir Nelson's illustrations in this book as much as I've liked his illustrations for other books. However, the text was beautiful.
Napoli worked in all the functions that trees have for humans as solutions to problems that women brought to her. Well done! The picture of Wangari as a child with the tadpoles is taken right out of her autobiography, Unbowed. Napoli also linked planting the trees with peace, although the message toward the end that Kenya was at peace wasn't true for a...more
Lisa Vegan
Well, this is the fourth or fifth picture book I’ve read about Wangari Maathai. I still haven’t read her autobiography or her book about the Green Belt Movement.
Each picture book has its strengths and weaknesses.

This was not my favorite of the books. Its main weakness (for me) was that in the main part of the story, women come to Maathai with problems and each time she tells them to plant trees and explains how the trees will solve their problems. Each time she ends with saying “Thayu numba _ P...more
Sue Cowing
Donna Jo Napoli has told the inspiring contemporary story of Wangari Maathai tree by tree, in the compelling, flawless rhythm of an old tale . Kadir Nelson's fabric collage illustrations deepen the glory of the text. Adult readers will be led to wonder at a true story of social and environmental renewal emerging from an area commonly thought to herald the next worst things in the future of the planet. Child readers will be strengthened in their inclination to believe that very small efforts can...more
biography of 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai. Gorgeous illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Terrific afterward that provides even more details about her amazing life. The book doesn't reveal the full complexity of her life or work, but it is a good introduction and is visually stunning. Author's note at end describes research process & provides links to gain additional knowledge. (I went back and forth between 3 & 4 stars, and the illustrations are what was the deciding fact...more
Robyn Davis
I absolutely love this book. It is a beautiful story of a strong African woman. It has big, beautiful pictures that students would enjoy. It also includes many words and phrases in Swahili, as well as a glossary in the back. A great way to introduce Kenyan culture into your classroom and to link to students from Kenya to help them feel validated.
This is a well researched book with beautifully written prose focusing on the later part of Wangari's life. The illustrations are absolutely stunning and are reason enough to include this book in a collection. The combination of printed fabrics and oil paints give each picture such incredible texture and life.
Mama Miti tells the story of Wangari Muta Maathai, who just died on September 25, 2011. She was a Nobel Peace Laureate - the first African women to win the Nobel peace prize. In awarding Maathai the Nobel peace prize in 2004, the Nobel committee said that her "unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression – nationally and internationally."

Maathai was the first woman in east and central Africa to obtain a PhD. She was also the first woman professor the Univ...more
Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli
This entry was posted on March 5, 2013, in Africa, Earth Day, Education, Picture Books, Teaching and tagged bookreview #kidlit, earthday, kidlit, picture books, YA. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment (Edit)

I came across this gem during a search for books illustrated by Kadir Nelson. I was planning a study of his work as my Black History Month theme this year. As usual, Nelson’s illustrations are absolutely amazing. But the story of “Mama Miti” is also a wonderf...more
Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

One woman. One seed. One hope for the future.
Thayu nyumba -- Peace, my people.

Wangari grew up in the shadow of Mount Kenya listening to the stories about the people and land around her. Though the trees towered over her, she had loved them for as long as she could remember. Wangari planted trees one by one to refresh her spirit. When the women came to her for help with their families, she told them...more
Wangari Maathai is an amazing woman who is proof that one person can make a difference. She is the recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace and founder of the Green Belt Movement, which is a movement that promotes conservation and planting trees in Kenya; a region of the world that’s people were weakened due to depletion of many natural resources from deforestation.

Today I read two picture books on Maathai, someone I had never heard of before, and this one was nowhere near as good as the other. My dau...more
kate and lexi
Mama Miti is a children's book that explains how one woman changed a nation by restoring ecosystems and how that helped everyday people. Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan activist who became the first woman to will the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement, makes an excellent subject. The oil paintings and collage illustrations by Kadir Nelson are beautiful and striking, they seem to make a faraway world more real to readers, integrating African textiles and motifs.

In addition to...more
Sam Grace
Wow. Kadir Nelson can do no wrong. These illustrations are deep and many of them I wish I had as prints for my house. The story itself grew on me as I read it, and my favorite part was when there was a different tree suggested for each need. That trees can answer so many needs is a cool thing, as is the idea that you could learn each one. I wish, however, that if each tree was not to be illustrated in the story, that there had at least been simpler drawings of them in the glossary at the back (a...more
I love this book in theory. The story of one woman empowering other women and revitalizing the native environment of her country- what's not to love? But I also have to judge this on the reception it got from the little critic. Which wasn't so overwhelmingly positive. In fairness, she's three and a half, and perhaps not ready yet. The subject matter and the language may have been a bit "dry" for one as young as her, but I can't ignore that it wasn't hitting the spot for the intended audience. Th...more
An amazing story of Wangari Maathai, the first African American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Wangari had a love for nature and peace. This is how she transformed Kenya, tree by tree. Each time a village woman came to Wangari seeking help, she gave them a seed and told them to plant the mukinduri trees. Each time, these seeds proved to be the things these women needed for their children, wood for fire, medicine for sick cattle, timber for buildings. After a time, the tr...more
Really I would give the illustrations a five and the text a three. Since I can't do that, I went with the average.

The text ... seemed a little dry for a picture book. Which is kind of sad, because as it turns out it is quite an important story. I had never heard of her before but after reading some of the "afterword" she seems like a really interesting person who has done amazing things.

Kadir Nelson's artwork is very different in this one compared to some of his others but I still LOVED it. The...more
Mama Miki is a Nobel Prize winner from Africa. She was well-known for her wisdom, and women from all over would come to her for advice.

In the book, whatever the woman's problem (not enough food, need animal fodder, need a way to protect livestock) Mama Miti knew just the kind of tree they needed to grow. Eventually, her efforts helped spread trees across her country and repaired some of the effects of pollution from the environment.
Jul 26, 2010 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an amazing story, filled with practical common sense, a lyrical narrative and gorgeous illustrations. The story is a simple one, with repetitive elements and a short enough length that will keep the attention of younger listeners. It has a flowing and enchanting chant embedded within the tale that is soothing and helps reinforce the feeling that this is an oral history being passed down. And the illustrations are simply wonderful, extensively using fabric remnants to create simple, yet b...more
Whirl Girl
Out of all the Wangari Maathai picture books that I read, this was my favorite. Many of the others were more biographical, but this one focused on the individual difference that Maathai made in the lives of Kenyan women. It was also the one that The Whirl Girl best understood. I was amazed to see how well she grasped the concept of women not having enough money or food or housing, and how Maathai helped them. The refrain of "plant a tree" stuck with her also. When we made a donation to Maathai's...more
Nicole Cingiser
Mama Miti tells the story of Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai's grassroots initiative to plant trees across Kenya. Maathai, who founded the Green Belt Movement (which focused on environmental conservation and and democratic rights), was an advocate for the women of her country, and encouraged all that she met to plant seedlings in order to reforest the land and help the women's lives to become more sustainable. With informative, lyrical prose and stunning illustrations, this book tells the true s...more
Got this for my 4YO's "school," but he picks it to read as a bedtime story as well -- surprising because there are neither knights nor dinosaurs in the story. Great messages of tree-hugging, the practical application of knowledge, the impact one person can make, and Kenyan culture. Beautiful illustrations, with pictures composed almost entirely of a patchwork of prints to resemble the brightly colored combinations of African dress. The Kenyan tree names are a mouthful to try to say, and my son t...more
This isn't my favorite Kadir Nelson illustrated book, but I really liked the story and the illustrations together. Though one of the disappointments of this book and others like it is that it diminishes the achievements of the figure being biographied in order to make a point. Wangari seems like a figure who just knows from wisdom she has to plant trees for specific purposes. But in reality she went to school and had advanced degrees that helped her to spread her knowledge and to be listened to...more
Genre: Multicultural/Biography
Copyright: 2010

This book tells the story of Wangari, a wise woman who helps to save people and her land by bringing back the trees. What I really loved about this book where the illustrations. The pictures were created by Caldecott winner Kadir Nelson. The pictures were done in oil paints and printed fabrics on gessoed board. Nelson chose this because African cultures are rich with textiles and color. I think that Nelson really helped share the culture of Africa thr...more
Jan Rue
Jun 11, 2013 Jan Rue added it
Shelves: ed-689-books
Written by Donna Jo Napoli (2010) & illustrated by Kadri Nelson. This is a beautiful biography picture book about how a woman changed the lives of her people in Kenya through planting trees by the women. They rebuild their country one tree at a time. Wangari Muta Maathai was the 1st black woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. The after pages tell more about her life and story and give a glossary for African words used in the story Beautiful illustrations which look like fabric the diff...more
Christy Head
Mama Miti is a fast read which intermingles folk and tribal atmosphere with values which can relate to many such as self-reliance and strength. The illustrations look as though they were scrapbook together which gives it a unique feel. The language is rich but purposeful and the moral of the story resounds for children and adults alike. Though the plot falls a bit flat with the same advice being given time and again children also learn countless uses for various trees and impresses the importanc...more
Mary Anjali
This is a story of tradition, respect, love, family and poverty. The characters are not well developed and the reptition of the giving of the trees and the line, "Thaya Nyumba" which Mama Miti states means "peace my people". She takes such a simple idea of planting trees to help the village flourish. Each person has a different skill and with the trees they plant the skills come to life and then everyone is able to benefit from each other in the end and of course they are at peace when they hav...more
Wangari Muta Maathai, otherwise known as Mama Miti, was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). This picture book tells the story of how Wangari improved Kenya through environmental efforts.

The artwork for this story is amazing. The story is also powerful, though the text isn't as fantastic as the illustrations. This is a wonderful read aloud selection for elementary students (grades 2 - 4) but I don't think that many children will be drawn to it on their own.
Judy Desetti
This title was okay but only as a backup of additional info to last year's WAW title Planting the trees of Kenya : the story of Wangari MaathaiPlanting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai I thought Planting the Trees of Kenya was better information and had more depth to the story.
Amy Carr
The true story of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner "Mama Miti" (mother of trees)for her work in combating deforestation in Kenya and starting a grassroots organization called the Green Belt Movement. A gentle reminder of how valuable and precious our natural resources are and the responsibility we have to protect and guard them. The illustrations are done by Kadir Nelson (one of my favorite illustrators) and are beautiful!
This was a woman I'd never heard of, though I was vaguely aware of her Greenbelt Movement. This was a great biography though, and I wish there were more like since there are a number of Nobel Peace Prize winners among us whose example could maybe inspire a child or two to reach higher themselves. This was poetic and beautiful and a good introduction to a life not enough people are aware of.
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From her website:

Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children's and YA fiction.

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread.

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, "Taxi!" to...more
More about Donna Jo Napoli...
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