The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever (with audio recording) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.

Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a ...
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Overview

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.

Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees.

Kate decided that San Diego needed trees more than anything else. So this trailblazing young woman singlehandedly started a massive movement that transformed the town into the green, garden-filled oasis it is today. Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city.

Part fascinating biography, part inspirational story, this moving picture book about following your dreams, using your talents, and staying strong in the face of adversity is sure to resonate with readers young and old.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
★ 10/01/2013
K-Gr 2—Katherine Olivia Sessions was a real go-getter, becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree (1881) and transforming San Diego's City Park from a dry, ugly hillside into a lush garden flourishing beneath a beautiful canopy of trees. Motivated by the love she'd felt for trees since her childhood, Sessions researched species that would grow in arid weather and hilly terrain, and she asked gardeners around the world to send her seeds. She had left teaching to establish a nursery, and by the turn of the century, trees from that nursery were growing not only in City Park but all over San Diego. The park would be the site of the Panama-California Exposition in 1909, and Sessions wanted thousands of additional trees in place to make it even more spectacular. Multitudes volunteered, and the result was so lovely that the fair stayed open for two years instead of one. Hopkins writes in a light narrative style that makes this picture-book biography a great selection for a storytime with a nature-based theme, but it also contains good information for early report writers. The author utilizes variations of a positive, upbeat refrain-"but she did"-that kids will enjoy repeating. McElmurry's artwork undergirds Hopkins's writing with stylized beauty and a sense of joy. This is a wonderful tribute to a true champion of nature.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
Publishers Weekly
Echoing Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius in artistic style and theme, this picture book biography recalls the life and contributions of a horticulturist in the late 19th century. Kate Sessions populated San Diego’s landscape with not lupines but trees. Her love for nature dated back to her childhood, where, in school, “she liked studying wind and rain, muscles and bones, plants and trees. Especially trees.” McElmurry’s (Mad About Plaid) naïve illustrations are packed with patterns, from the dusty brown houses Sessions views as she docks in San Diego to the teardrop and polka-dot motifs in the trees. Likewise, debut author Hopkins skillfully employs a pattern in his narrative, a catchy refrain that emphasizes Sessions’s can-do attitude: “Not everyone feels at home in the woods. But Kate did.... Most San Diegans didn’t think trees could ever grow there. But Kate did.” Vignettes that include muddy handprints, labeled plant cell parts, and trees subtitled with their Latin names complement the larger gouache spreads, and a concluding note explains more about the inspirational spirit and work of a pioneering arborist. Ages 5–10. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)
Booklist
* “A terrific jacket image shows a tiny girl in a towering forest as seen from above. Who is this girl? And why is she the tree lady? Well, turns out Katherine Olivia Sessions, who grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, always loved trees…. A little-known, can-do woman shines in this handsome picture book from Hopkins and McElmurry. Hopkins ably brings a woman’s passion—and some science—to a story that’s accessible for young children. And, oh the pictures! Both old-timey and lush, they evoke Kate’s vision perfectly, and individually labeled illustrations of trees add to the educational value. A lovely tribute to the pioneering (and environmentalist) spirit, topped off by an author’s note.”
September-October 2013 Horn Book Magazine
"A real-life Miss Rumphius, Kate Sessions was responsible for populating San Diego’s Balboa Park with lush, green trees, just in time for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915.... Hopkins’s text succinctly captures the highlights...effectively underscoring Sessions’s drive and determination. McElmurry’s gouache illustrations document the gradually changing landscape from barren desert to verdant garden. One particularly effective spread not only illustrates twelve different kinds of trees Sessions brought to San Diego but also shows the far-flung places from which they were imported. This picture book biography captures the infectious passion Sessions had for her chosen vocation, but it’s also a wonderful testament to urban planning and human ecology—and a great book for Arbor Day."
Kirkus Reviews
Hopkins respectfully profiles Kate Sessions, a pioneering horticulturalist who helped transform San Diego's City Park from a barren waste into today's lush, tree-filled Balboa Park. Hopkins traces the effects of Kate's childhood affinity for science and fascination with trees. Roaming the Northern California woods as a child and becoming the first woman to earn a science degree from the University of California in 1881, Kate turned her passion into work that transformed a community. After a brief teaching stint in San Diego, she became a gardener and worked out a nifty deal with the city: In exchange for leasing acreage for a plant nursery within City Park, she promised to plant 100 trees a year in the park and deliver additional hundreds for planting citywide. Sessions sourced seeds from species grown globally and coordinated tree-planting parties to beautify Balboa Park in time for the city's 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Hopkins' text presents Sessions' achievements in simple language embodying Kate's can-do spirit. "Most San Diegans didn't think trees could ever grow there. But Kate did." McElmurry's gouache illustrations adopt a stylized, reductive approach. Foliage is rendered as green globes decorated with leaf forms; the bark of palms sports simple crosshatching. The artist nicely conveys Kate's life arc, from child among sequoias to elder on a tree-lined park path. An appealing treatment of an accomplished woman's life. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442487277
  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books
  • Publication date: 9/17/2013
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: NOOK Kids Read to Me
  • Edition description: No Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 516,547
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • File size: 14 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

H. Joseph Hopkins lives on a houseboat in Portland, Oregon. This is his first picture book.
Jill McElmurry has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including Mario Makes a Move; Mad about Plaid; Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp; and the bestselling Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. She lives on a farm in New Mexico. Visit her at JillMcElmurry.com.
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