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Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  680 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement, grew up in the highlands of Kenya, where fig trees cloaked the hills, fish filled the streams, and the people tended their bountiful gardens. But over many years, as more and more land was cleared, Kenya was transformed. When Wangari returned home from college in America, she foun ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the a beautiful and inspiring story of Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement. But, first and foremost, Wangari loves trees, nature, and the harmony that sings when humans work in rhythm with their environment--and this love, which began in her childhood, is what inspired her in everything else. I think this story is so powerful not only because it shows us a truly outstanding woman--but it shows how we ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody who cares about sustainability, the earth, people
Recommended to Lisa by: Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This is a gem of a book. The illustrations made me so happy and this non-fiction book is truly inspirational.

I love this book’s illustrations. I have a special fondness for intricate drawings of tiny (on the page) plant life. The trees and crops shown here are so beautiful, as are the people, the dog, the whole classroom that’s shown, and I was enchanted on almost every page. I could be happy viewing over and over those miniature plants and trees. Just lovely!

The true story is just wonderful, an
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Environmentalists / Young Readers Who Enjoy Biography
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 - the first African woman to be so honored - Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai's struggle to reverse the environmental degradation of her homeland, and the resultant increase in in rural poverty that followed it, is related for younger readers in Claire A. Nivola's Planting the Trees of Kenya. An inspirational tale, of one woman's crusade to improve the life of her people, by teaching them to be better stewards of the land, it also offers a clear lesson on the ...more
Jo Ann
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this short children's book 3 years ago when it came out, but it has not been added to my list until today. Wangari Maatha was a personal hero of mine...she died yesterday in Kenya after a long battle with ovarian cancer. I was a freshman when Wangari was a senior at the small Catholic college we attended in Atchison, Kansas. When she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, I was excited and proud! She was beautiful, inside and out, and this little book is a true is only a very simple ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, picture
Planting the Trees of Kenya is an account for young readers of the life and work of Wangari Maathai, Founder of the Green Belt Movement. Nivola explains the environmental issues in a simple, non-politicized manner, focusing on the relationship between people and local ecology and the virtues that enabled Maathai and other Kenyan women to restore the forests: hard work, independence, patience, determination. The story also encourages readers to think about ways they can make a difference on a loc ...more
CH _Kenya  Walker
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement, grew up in the highlands of Kenya, where fig trees cloaked the hills, fish filled the streams, and the people tended their bountiful gardens. But over many years, as more and more land was cleared, Kenya was transformed. When Wangari returned home from college in America, she found the village gardens dry, the people malnourished, and the trees gone. She set about bringing the trees back and restoring t ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: humane-education
This would be a fine addition to a unit on environmentalism, gardening, Africa, or strong women leaders. We read the true story of Wangari Maathai, who helped her Kenyan village replant trees and practice resource conservation after bad planning resulted in arid, unusable lands.
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A more detailed book for upper elementary about the life of Wangari Maathai.
The story is a wonderful story that I think needs to be shared. I had no idea who Wangari Maathai was before reading this book. The book tells Wangari's story of growing up in Kenya as a wonderful experience where her community honored their land and tree diversity. It then flashes forward to Wangari attending college in America at Benedictine College only to return to Kenya and find her country had vastly changed. Wangari began a tree planting campaign and won a Novel Peace Prize for her work. ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll520-info-bios
Beautifully illustrated, with simple text in picture book format that tells how Wangari, the first women from Africa to receive the Nobel Peace Prize came to found the Green Belt Movement in 1977 in her native Kenya. When she left for college in America, her country was lush with trees, clear streams and small family gardens and livestock. When she returned in 1966, three years after Kenya gained its independence from Britain, the landscape was considerably different. Trees had been cleared for ...more
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-international
Claire Nivola's Planting the Trees of Kenya tells the story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and her quest to bring back the trees of Kenya. This beautifully illustrated picture book follows Maathai's story from her childhood in Kenya, to her education in the United States, and the founding of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in 1977. In 2004, Maathai was the first woman from Africa to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in teaching Kenyan women to plant trees and reclaim their land. ...more
The story of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya which focuses on environmental issues. This book describes the dramatic change undergone by Kenya in the first decade of independence from British rule and the pending environmental disaster created as farmers abandoned traditional methods of farming, cut down all the trees, and enlarged their holdings in order to grow more cash crops. When Wangari Maathai returned to Kenya from college in the United S ...more
Tricia Pham
This book is the story of a girl who grew up in Kenya with luscious land full of plants and trees, and her return to Kenya and the changes she makes. Her name is Wangari Maathai and she has returned home after living in America to attend college. She comes back to find that the land is dry, her people are malnourished and the land is cleared of most of the trees. She decides that she is going to make a change and begin the Greenbelt Movement by planting trees. She does this so that the health of ...more
Sara Ullery
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-reviews
• This book is beautifully illustrated and tells the story about one woman’s desire to educate those around her to care for their land. The land was once lush, but the land was being cleared, and people did not know how to take care of it. Once this woman teaches them how to tend to the land, it may begin to be beautiful once again.
• Teachers may use this for English, Geography, History, Biology
• Grades K-3
• Individual students may read this book then write a summary on the events in the story.
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this picture book biography. I liked the illustrations, and the text is informative. Wangari Maathai's story is interesting. I knew basically nothing about Kenya. There are a few minor discussion points, nothing that's dwelt on. It mentions in the extra biographical info at the end that there's a problem with "ever-expanding population dependent on ever-shrinking natural resources," just in passing. It also mentions in the main text that the fig tree was sacred, meaning that it was to ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book made me cry but in a good way.

What a beautiful story, made more so because it is one based on the true life of Wangari Maathai. There are so many layers to this book, text and illustrations, I think you could read it repeatedly and get something new from it every time.

The world needs more people like this. The world needs more books like this. What a joy to read this story. What a joy to learn that people are planting trees and caring for the world this way, even when the odds were aga
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The exquisitely detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations seemed an odd choice for a book with so much potential for richness and color, but they are enchanting. The story of Wangari Maathai deserves to be better known. Good for reading aloud to young children, this book may even inspire them to help make the world better.
Lynn  Davidson
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When Wangari Maathai realized her beloved Kenya and its people were greatly suffering due to land clearing she was determined to do something to change it back. This is a well told story of a woman who made a huge difference by acting on her belief that if we are part of the problem we can become part of the solution.
What a lovely story with beautiful pictures.
I must confess I was ignorant about Wangari Maathai, Kenya's problems with environmental damage and the work she put into healing Kenya's nature and people.

I'll have to check out works about and by Wangari Maathai because this was immensely interesting.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Outstanding! What an inspiring story! The illustrations were wonderfully detailed and lively. Now I must read Maathai's memoir, Unbowed.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Iza Alcorn
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, cultural
this picture book is about a girl named Wangari Maathai, who notices changes in her home. The kind of changes Wangari noticed was that there was an increased amount of people, but there was not enough food to feed everyone, and the new incomers as well. This created a problem, but Wangari wanted to make a change and create a solution for her home. Wangari then decides to use her skills and teach the people around her how to plant seeds. These seeds are different plants and grow new plants, whic ...more
Julianne Doucet
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola was my absolute favorite picture book that I have read during this semester. This story was incredibly powerful and moving and the fact that it is true makes it even more so. Wangari Maathai is one of the most inspiring and strong woman role models that I believe the world has ever seen and I am thrilled that her story was told in such a magnificent way for all ages of girls and boys to read. This book is not only a book that I would include in my ...more
The illustrations are wonderfully tidy and intricate.
Richie Partington
01 February 2008 PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA: THE STORY OF WANGARI MAATHAI by Claire A. Nivola, FSG/Frances Foster Books, April 2008, 32p. ISBN: 0-374-39918-2

"The farms of Ohio had been replaced by shopping malls And muzak filled the air from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls." -- The Pretenders, "My City was Gone"

"As Wangari Maathai tells it, when she was growing up on a farm in the hills of central Kenya, the earth was clothed in its dress of green.
"Fig trees, olive trees, crotons, and flame trees co
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very good children's book that tells of how one woman was able to change her Kenyan home environment because of paying attention and encouraging others to participate in making their lives better. I plan to use it with my Adult ESL students in Kenya.
Malicia Bragg
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Planting the Trees of Kenya is the story of Wangari Maathai. Wangari spent her childhood growing up in Kenya, during this time the land was covered by a luscious green cloth of plants and trees. When old enough she moved to America to attend a college ran by the Benedictine nuns. Here she studied biology, as well as gained an important life lesson and that was to, “think not just of herself but of the world beyond herself”. After she finished schooling she was eager to return back to Kenya, but ...more
Jordan Wagner
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Genre: Non-fiction Biography
Theme: Giving back, education, loving nature
Grade level: 3-6
Awards: Children's Africana Book Award, 2009, Honor Book, Best Book for Young Children
Cybils Awards, 2008, Finalist, Non-Fiction Picture Book
Green Earth Book Award, 2009, Winner, Picture Book
Jane Addams Children's Book Award, 2009, Winner, Younger Readers
Once Upon A World Children's Book Award, 2009, Winner
Parents' Choice Award, 2008, Gold, Non-Fiction
Society of School Librarians International Book Awards, 2
Madeline Krasnasky
This book was very motivational. The main character, Wangari Maathai was the first woman from Africa to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, which shows her hard work and dedication. She was the sole purpose for change and created a new world for Kenya. I thought the page about the soldiers was the most touching page in this story. I absolutely loved the quote, "You should hold the gun in your right hand and a tree seedling in your left." This quote really stuck with me because, in order to show strengt ...more
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Claire Nivola writes: “I was born in 1947 in New York City. When I was a year old my parents bought an old farmhouse in The Springs on Long Island—the seashore town that appears in Elisabeth (FSG). The “country,” as it still was then; animals; being read to; and reading were among the passions of my childhood. The daughter of an artist father and mother, I drew and sculpted from earliest childhood ...more

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