“Nelson’s pictures, a jaw-dropping union of African textiles collaged with oil paintings, brilliantly capture the villagers’ clothing and the greening landscape...This is, in a word, stunning.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Nelson’s (We Are the Ship) breathtaking portraits of Maathai often have a beatific quality; bright African textiles represent fields, mountains, and Maathai’s beloved trees...Napoli (The Earth Shook) creates a vivid portrait of the community from which Maathai’s tree-planting mission grows.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A beautiful introduction for children just learning about the Greenbelt Movement.” —School Library Journal
Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award
CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Council)
NAACP Image Award Nominee
Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.
About the Author
Donna Jo Napoli is the acclaimed and award-winning author of many novels, both fantasies and contemporary stories. She won the Golden Kite Award for Stones in Water in 1997. Her novel Zel was named an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, and a School Library Journal Best Book, and a number of her novels have been selected as ALA Best Books. She is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband. Visit her at DonnaJoNapoli.com.
Kadir Nelson is an award-winning American artist whose works have been exhibited in major national and international publications, institutions, art galleries, and museums. Nelson is the illustrator of many beloved, award-winning, and bestselling picture books including, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, winner of the Coretta Scott King and Robert F. Sibert Award; Thunder Rose, written by Jerdine Nolen, which received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award; Ellington Was Not a Street, written by Ntozake Shange, which received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, written by Jerdine Nolen, which won the 2005 Society of Illustrators Gold Medal; and Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli called “stunning” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review. He is also the illustrator of Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan’s Salt in His Shoes and Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee’s Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please. Kadir Nelson lives in Los Angeles.
What People are Saying About This
* “Nelson’s pictures, a jaw-dropping union of African textiles collaged with oil paintings, brilliantly capture the villagers’ clothing and the greening landscape…. This is, in a word, stunning.”
—Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
* “Nelson’s (We Are the Ship) breathtaking portraits of Maathai often have a beatific quality; bright African textiles represent fields, mountains, and Maathai’s beloved trees… Napoli (The Earth Shook) creates a vivid portrait of the community from which Maathai’s tree-planting mission grows.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A beautiful introduction for children just learning about the Greenbelt Movement.”
—School Library Journal
“Luminous illustrations are the highlight of this third recent picture-book biography of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental activist who received the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. In brief, poetic lines thathave a folktale tone, Napoli describes how “wise Wangari” helped Kenyan village women solve problems from hunger to dirty water with the same solution: “Plant a tree.” Most noteworthy is Nelson’s vibrant collage artwork, which features soaring portraits and lush landscapes in oil paint and printed fabrics.”
“Illustrator Kadir Nelson intensifies the text's tribute to East African culture, mixing oil paints and textiles in collages that capture the quest of women looking for answers as well as the beauty and vastness of Maathai's project . . Especially dazzling… Makes vibrantly clear how strong and resourceful Maathai and other African women have been in restoring trees and peace to their world.”
—The Washington Post
“This picture book glows from every page as Napoli and Nelson write and illustrate the inspiring story of ecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai…. A lovely, stirring picture book with a simple message for us all: in the midst of change, development, and upheaval, there is always a place for wisdom and peace.”
— Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Kansas
"Will inspire children of all ages.”
—Ellen Scott, The Bookworm, Omaha, Nebraska
"This is the true story of Wangari Muta Maathi, a Kenyan woman who helped to bring trees back to a sadly deforested country. Her grassroots efforts to help her people and the environment at the same time had a profound effect not only on Kenya, but on people all over the world who heard her story and who learned her lessons. With a lyrical text and stunning multimedia art, this picture book is a must for every reader, both young and not so young." Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mama Miti tells the story of Wangari Muta Maathai, who just died on September 25, 2011. She was a Nobel Peace Laureate - the first African women to win the Nobel peace prize. In awarding Maathai the Nobel peace prize in 2004, the Nobel committee said that her "unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression ¿ nationally and internationally." Maathai was the first woman in east and central Africa to obtain a PhD. She was also the first woman professor the University of Nairobi, where she taught veterinary medicine and eventually became head of the faculty.While serving on the National Council of Women of Kenya, she became dedicated to helping with the struggles of women in rural Kenya. Noticing how the rapid environmental degradation was affecting women's lives, she encouraged them to plant trees to ensure future supplies of firewood and to protect water sources and crops. To that end, she founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which led to the planting of more than thirty million trees.Maathai's agenda widened as she joined efforts to stop powerful politicians grabbing land, especially forests. This brought her into conflict with the authorities, and she was beaten and arrested numerous times. Her bravery and defiance made her a hero in Kenya.Napoli¿s book was written in 2010, before Maathai¿s passing. It focuses on the way ¿Wangari changed a country, tree by tree. She taught her people the ancient wisdom of peace with nature¿.She is known these days as Mama Miti ¿ the mother of trees.¿Napoli¿s prose is spare but beautiful, and conveys the struggles of women to survive in a harsh environment. But it is the amazing oil and fabric collage illustrations of Kadir Nelson that make this book exceptional. Bright and beautiful, each one could grace anyone¿s wall at home.An Afterword gives the facts of Maathai¿s life, a list of further resources, and a glossary of African words and phrases used in the text.Evaluation: This is a book that will inspire all ages. Highly recommended.
A great way to introduce children to the story of Mama Miti or to encourage an understanding of nature to promote world change. The narrative is peppered with Kikuyu and KiSwahili terms and introduces children to the what learning about nature can do in a practical setting. The illustrations are not my favorites, but they are beautifully done.
Summary: Mama Miti is a beautiful story about a woman named Wangari who grew up in Kenya. Wangari grew up listening to the traditions of her ancestors and learned about the importance of trees. When she was an adult, she moved to Nairobi and planted trees in her yard. Women from the city came to her with their troubles and asked for her advice. Wangari would listen to their troubles and provide the women with seedlings for trees that would help them. The women followed Wangari¿s directions. Soon the news of the wise Wangari spread and women came from all over Kenya asking for advice. Wangari¿s kind and giving ways helped women become self sufficient and helped Kenya return to a nation of trees and peace. Soon Wangari became known as Mama Miti, which means the mother of trees. Teaching Implications: This is a true story about Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Some themes throughout this story are preservation, peaceful change, and hope. This story is beautifully written with Kikuyu language used to enhance the authenticity of the history. The author repeats on most of the pages ¿Thayu nyumba ¿ Peace, my people.¿ The back of the book provides a brief biography of Wangari Muta Maathai and all the accomplishments she achieved throughout her life. It also includes a glossary of the Kikuyu terms used throughout the book. The author provides a short summary of how she received her information on Wangari and the greenbelt movement. Nelson, the illustrator was also purposeful in creating illustrations that represented the culture that he was illustrating. There is so much to learn from this book about Kenya, and the determination of people.
Mama Miti is a story based upon the life of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Wangari Maathai from Kenya. Wangari always planted trees when she needed to refresh her spirit, so when her friends and neighbors came to her for advice on various topics, she would tell them to also plant a type of tree that would meet their specific need. Wangari told her friends that the trees could not only refresh their spirits, but could provide food, shelter, shade, firewood, medicine, and many other benefits. This story shows the importance trees hold for society and the numerous advantages they bring. It was inspiring to read the true story of how one woman began to change her country by planting trees which in turn attracted more animals and people. I feel it is vital to share the importance of appreciating and taking care of the environment with today's young people. In the classroom, I would have students plant various types of plants in small plastic planters and place them on top of a shelf by a window that could provide the sun they require. I would have the students¿ water and also journal about their plants' growth and changes daily for about a week until they took them home.