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Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  463 ratings  ·  95 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 than 30 million tree ...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
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
Lisa Lathrop
1) This inspiring non-fiction picture book is about Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. She in empowered rural women who had started reporting their streams were drying up, their food supply was diminishing and the animals were dying. Maathai's movement revived the country and brought it back to life. Wangari was an educated woman whose efforts pulled together Kenya for the common good and her efforts for peace and change won her the Novel ...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
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
Awesome text, and Kadir Nelson has branched a little by incorporating prints into his illustrations. Beautifully done.
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
Amy Jewell
1.) Text-to-world connection: A text to world connection I found when reading this book is that something as easy as planting a tree or a plant can provide so much-food/drink/shelter. It is wonderful that the woman in this book, Mama Miti, was able to promote gardening and planting throughout her country.

2.) I feel that this is a culturally specific children's book. The story is a true story about woman, Wangari Maathai (Mama Miti) that lives in Kenya. All of the individuals portrayed in the sto
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
Kadir Nelson's illustrations are gorgeous and it is worth flipping through this book just to drool over his paintings. The text, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired. While Donna Jo Napoli's prose is poetic, Mama Miiti reads more like a hagiography than a biography. Napoli reduces Wangari Maathai's highly political story to a heart-warming tale of one wise woman helping the poor village women who come to her beseeching aid.

Mama Miti does not mention Wangari Maathai's university education,
Mama Miti is a gorgeous picture book that tells the story of Wangari Maathai the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari developed a love of trees at an early age. As a woman she was respected for her knack for growing things. Village women would come to her for advice and help. Wangari’s advice always lead to the planting of more trees. Kadir Nelson is the illustrator for this book. The illustrations are a wonderful mixed media collage of printed fabric and oil paintings. The ...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
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
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
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
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
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
Brenda Kahn
Found this story of Wangari Maathai when looking up other books about her. This one has a folk tale feel with very few biographical details but lilting, repetitive language accompanied by absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Using fabric and textiles is a bit a departure for Nelson, one of my favorite illustrators and the resulting paintings are magnificent. Fine for introducing this Nobel prize winner to a young audience.
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
This book chronicals the like of wangari maathai, from her childhood, to her work reforesting Kenya. The book features language from Kenua and also captures wangari maathai's voice with her answer to every problem "plant a tree." The illustrations were very realistic when it came to people, but more expressive when it came to the landscapes and scenery.
Inspirational and beautiful - a keeper! The retelling of the story of one woman who changed a country - Wangari Maathai - 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. This book emphasizes the power of nature and how the fortitude of one person can make a difference. It is understandable why Kadir Nelson is an award winning illustrator with his richly hued artwork. 'Mama Miti' - the mother of trees is spiritually moving story. This book is now one of my favs.
Beautiful illustrations leap out from every page. A very informative afterward and glossary. The story is not a biography of Dr. Wangari Maathai, but instead an imaginative tale inspired by her life's work. I would read it for fun, but not for information.
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.
First, the bad: Very "educational," not very fun. And it's illustrated by one of my favorites, Kadir Nelson.
Now the good: I learned about the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and how she helped reforest Kenya.
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
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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 about Donna Jo Napoli...

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