Monday, June 7, 2010

Seeds of Change Jen Cullerton Johnson Sonia Lynn Sadler

Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler
This is a wonderful picture book biography on Wangari Maathai the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize

When Seeds of Change begins when a young Wangari Maathai is learning the importance of trees from her mother. Though many Kenyan girls didn't get an education at the time, Wangar's parents allow her to go to school.

"Wangari walked the long road to a one-room schoolhouse with walls made of mud, a floor of dirt, and a roof of tin. In time she learned to copy her letters and trace numbers. Wangari's letters soon made words, and her words made sentences. She learned how number could be added and subtracted, multiplied and divided. Animals and plants, she discovered, were like human beings in many ways. They needed air, water and nourishment too."

Johnson doesn't waste a line or word, everything leads to another fact. The author gives a reader (of any age) a great sense of who Wangari Maathai is, a woman who loves her country and believes in the power of trees to save, enough to go to jail for. I liked Sadler's use of color. Though the illustrations didn't enhance the text for me. After the first few pages my focus was on Johnson's words.

"America had changed Wangari. She had discovered a spirit of possibility and freedom that she wanted to share with Kenyan women. She accepted a teaching job at the University of Nairobi. Not many women were professors then and even fewer taught science. Wangari led the way for other women and girls. She worked for equal rights so that female scientists would be treated with the same respect as male scientists."

There was another picture book biography on Wangari Maathai released this year called Mama Miti: by Donna Jo Napoli - I liked it but I was left wanting to know more. These biographies probably shouldn't be compared since the authors took different approaches but its inevitable that they will be. So all things being equal, Seeds of Change is my favorite.

Check out a few professional reviews via Lee & Low Books

I've linked this to Non Fiction Monday roundup which can be found at Charlotte's Library this week.


Anonymous said...

This is one I'm excited to see - I love a good picture book biography, and she's such a rich subject. Glad to hear it's good!

Color Online said...

Desperately want this book. It was unavailable when I tried to order it from the publisher.