Reviews for Seeds of Change : Planting A Path To Peace

Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
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. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2010 July
Illustrated and simplified for a younger audience, this book is the life story of Wangari Maathai, an environmental activist who started with nothing in a poor Kenyan village, went to college in America, and returned to Kenya to create a nationwide movement planting trees, hold a position in Parliament, and become the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Children will gain a better understanding of the poverty faced by some cultures when they read about Wangari’s childhood; for example, her excitement to study in a one-room mud hut. Some may relate to her struggles with the culture shock of moving to a metropolitan city after growing up in a tiny, rural community. Moms will love the recurring themes of female empowerment throughout, and youth of all ages will be inspired by the story of one girl who changed an entire nation. For ages nine to twelve. 2010 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
This biography of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan scientist and environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is informative but overwritten: "Like a sturdy tree against a mighty wind, her faith kept her strong." The oil and scratchboard illustrations call to mind stained glass, with panes of color separated by white lines. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #2
This debut picture biography, idealized and inspiring, draws on Wangari Maathai's autobiographical writing to present an overview of the activist's life from childhood to the present. Johnson sows her narrative with botanical metaphors: "Her mind was like a seed rooted in rich soil, ready to grow." The mugumo tree symbolizes Kenya's transition from agrarian bounty to environmental precipice: It yields figs for humans and animals yet bows to destruction as multinational corporations raze forests to profit from coffee plantations. Richer than other treatments of Maathai for children and more grounded in her work's implicit feminism, this details her education in Nairobi and the United States, her imprisonment for activism and her scientific and environmental work, resulting in the planting of 30,000,000 trees and economic empowerment for Kenyan women. Sadler's beautiful scratchboard illustrations incise white contoured line into saturated landscapes of lush green leaf patterns, brilliant-hued textiles and undulating, stylized hills. Maathai always wears a colorful headscarf or fabric bow, and the community spirit she resuscitates is joyfully celebrated on every spread. Vibrant and accomplished. (author's note, sources, quotation sources) (Picture book biography. 6-11) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 April #2

With at least three other picture books out about Nobel Prize-winner Wangari Maathai--Planting the Trees of Kenya (2008), Wangari's Trees of Peace (2008), and Mama Miti (2010)--another volume about the Kenyan activist might seem to crowd a full shelf. This one, though, provides older children with a more thorough investigation of Maathai's life. Debut author Johnson includes an account of Maathai's training for a doctorate in biology and the obstacles she faced, sets her tree-planting initiative in the context of her political career, and identifies her adversaries as "Foreign business people, greedy for more land for their coffee plantations and trees for timber." The highly stylized figures in Sadler's (Ma Dear's Old Green House) scratchboard spreads are outlined in white, lending them a stained-glass feel. Trees, leaves, and water are simplified into elemental shapes, giving the whole the appearance of a tropically colored quilt. Throughout the book runs the image of the Kikuyu people's sacred mugumo tree as the source of Maathai's tree-planting project, an idea "as small as a seed but as tall as a tree that reaches for the sky." Ages 6-11. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 April

Gr 2-4--This entry on Wangari Maathai takes a slightly more comprehensive look at her life than several other recent books. Her deep love of nature and her determination, first to get an education and later to save the environment and ultimately the people of Kenya, are discussed. Foreign business interests and the duplicity of "corrupt police" forced her first into prison, then politics, and ultimately into spreading her message to the wider world. The book closes as she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. An afterword adds more detail on the Green Belt Movement. Vivid colors sparkle from within the thick white outlines in the batik-style illustrations that fill the pages.--Carol S. Surges, McKinley Elementary School, Wauwatosa, WI

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