Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

"Wangari planted trees one by one to refresh her spirit. When the women came to her for help with their families, she told them to do the same. Soon the countryside was filled with trees. Kenya was strong once more. Wangari had changed her country, tree by tree."

This wonderfully written and illustrated book tells the story of how one woman Wangari Maathai through her love and respect for trees, changed a country... Kenya... tree by tree! Napoli's book is based on a story inspired by Wangari Matthai who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

The book begins when a woman who has lost her job comes to Wangari asking for food.
"Wangari took the woman's hands and turned them over. She took the children's hands, one by one. "These are strong hand. Here are seedlings of the mubiru muiru tree. Plant them. Plant as many as you can. Eat the berries."

"Thayu nyumba"--- Peace my people"

"More people throughout the village came from near and far away to ask the wise Wangari to help them. In every case, she told them to plant a tree and the reasons for planting the tree! She told them to plant trees for firewood, to feed the animals, cure the animals, keep away predators, timber to build strong homes, to purify the water."

"All over the countryside the trees that had disappeared came back...

"Wangari changed a country, tree by tree. She taught her people the ancient wisdom of peace with nature. And now she is teachig the rest of the world. She is known these days as Mama Miti-the mother of trees. A green belt of peace started with one good woman offering someting we can all do: Plant a tree."

The books ends with a wise and regal looking Wangari calmly and serenely surveying the countryside knowing that even though her immediate work has been done, there is still more to do....

Thayu nyumba--Peace my people!"

Napoli and Nelson are quite an author illustrator tour-de-force. They are a winning combination of author and illustrator in this inspirational story of how one woman changed the world one tree at a time.

The colors are rich, bright, and earthy at the same time. All of the illustrations resemble kente cloth patterns that make you want to rub your fingers against the page and put on your favorite kente cloth outfit in celebration of Mother Earth.

Perhaps Wangari Maathai is a modern day Mother Nature?

I would recommend this book for all school, public, and home libraries. This is an easy calming read. I think that it would make a nice read before bed time. It almsot reads like a lullaby! I wish I had this story when I was a child. However, I am enjoying it now and more importantly, the children have enjoyed it today in my public library!

Here is the link to Mama Miti on

The book contains an Afterword, Kikuyu Glossary, A Note from the Author, and A Note from the Illustrator at the end.
Here is the link to Donna Jo Napoli's web site:

Here is the link to Kadir Nelson's web site:

Here is the direct link to his books:

Here is the link to the Nobel Peace Prize Press Release for Wangari Maathai:

Happy Reading!

Until the next time.......

A Children's Book A Day... Keeps the Scary Monster Away!

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