Sunday, May 3, 2009

Planting the Trees of Kenya

Evansville, Indiana, librarians and a few invited guests got together recently for a “Mock Caldecott” event. I filled in for Susan who could not attend. The purpose of the event was to meet days before the Caldecott Medal winner was announced, review likely candidates for the 2009 Medal, pick our favorites, and see if we picked the books that eventually won the Medal and runner up Caldecott Citations.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. The award goes to the artist of the most distinguished picture book published that year.

We examined dozens of books and agreed on a handful of favorites. No, we didn’t pick the eventual Medal winner, a striking book illustrated by Beth Krommes called The House in the Night.

One of my favorites was a book written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola, called Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai.

I loved the illustrations right away because I enjoy highly detailed images and excellent design, but the story really got to me. It’s the true story of an intelligent, dedicated, and courageous woman who accomplished so much for her people and the environment that she was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004.

A radio interview with Wangari Maathai was broadcast this morning on public radio. A podcast of the interview is available on iTunes. Search for Speaking of Faith from American Public Media. The release date was April 30. Speaking of Faith also prepared an interesting Web site about Wangari Maathai.

Susan and I were so taken by this inspiring story that we read the book to two of our grandchildren’s grade school classes. They seemed to enjoy it. You will like it, too.