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"For the first time in the [26-year]history of the survey—conducted five times since 1982—the overall adult literary r... More

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SEEDS OF CHANGE: Wangari's Gift to the World

Author: Jen Cullerton Johnson

Illustrator: Sonia Lynn Sadler

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Publisher: Lee & Low Books,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Seeds of Change is based on the true story of Wangari Maathai's quest to bring environmentalism and the Women's Rights Movement to Kenya starting in the 1970s, through the current decade (2010). Her effort culminated in the Nobel Peace Prize and millions of trees planted. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and unique in a style that makes the images speak of the beauty of Africa. This is a picture-book biography that also has African history.

Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book,

Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 6 to 10

Reading Level: 4.8

Age of Child: Read with boys ages 3 and 5.

Young Reader Reaction: My children liked the book, and listened well, but did not react overwhelmingly to the story. Some of the concepts (strength, character and courage) are more advanced than what a kindergartener or a preschooler can appreciate.

Adult Reader Reaction: I loved that the story was about a woman environmentalist in Africa. I was saddened to be telling my sons of a story where women struggle with being considered second-class. Even if she overcomes the oppression in the end, I don't want my sons to ever consider this an option. I felt the text was inefficient, and I lost patience reading it: too much text. I also felt that some of the concepts (politics, women's rights, etc.) were too abstract and high-level for kindergarteners.

Pros: The book has wonderful illustrations. I am glad to know the story of this strong woman environmentalist.

Cons: I felt there was a bit of politics, and that it was too advanced for my 5 year old to understand the concepts. Even first grade would be a stretch in my opinion.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a book suitable for the elementary school library.

If You Liked This Book, Try: 14 COWS FOR AMERICA   SKY HIGH, THE TRUE STORY OF MAGGIE GEE   SHE SANG PROMISE: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader

Educational Themes: There are several themes to draw from the story: a history of women's rights, environmentalism, and the power of education and hard work to overcome obstacles.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, biography, ecology, geography

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2011

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