A picture book biography of scientist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman - and first environnmentalist - to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for planting trees in her native Kenya. Detailed narrative and vibrant images paint a robust portrait of this inspiring champion of women's rights and the environment and engagingly capture the people, clothing and landscape of Kenya.
Grades 2-4. Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai has become a popular subject for the elementary-school crowd: this title marks the fourth picture-book biography about the Kenyan environmentalist to be released in the last two years. More than the previous offerings, Johnson’s title discusses Maathai’s education, particularly the role that her brother played in advocating that his sister attend school, and later, at college in the U.S., the inspiration Maathai found in her female science professors: “From them she learned that a woman could do anything she wanted to.” Throughout the poetic text, Johnson includes direct quotes, sourced in appended notes, which will help young people feel a more immediate connection to the inspiring activist and her powerful message. Sadler’s bright mixed-media art, reminiscent of Ashley Bryan’s work with its white outlines and rainbow-hued shapes, reinforces the sense of a depleted land growing green again and the presence, even in bustling city scenes, of a vibrant natural world. An author’s note and resources conclude this title, which complements, rather than duplicates, other recent titles about Maathai.