The Mangrove Tree – Perfect Picture Book

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families

Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, Authors

Susan L. Roth, Illustrator

Lee & Low Books Inc., Non-fiction, 2011

Suitable for:  Grades 1-6

Themes:  Mangrove Forests, Ecological Transformation, Food Production

Opening/SynopsisBy the Red Sea, in the African country of Eritrea, lies a little village called Hargigo.  The children play in the dust between houses made of cloth, tin cans, and flattened iron.  The families used to be hungry too.  But then things began to change…all because of a tree.   A Japanese scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, came up with an idea to plant mangrove trees by the shores of the salty Red Sea because their roots and leaves help them live in salty water.  He enlisted the support of the women to plant the mangrove seedlings, and in return they earned money.  They planted over 200,000 trees which became a leafy forest four miles long.  The trees provided fat leafy food for the goats, sheep and cows, which in turn fed hungry families.  The mangrove trees helped the fishing industry in Hargigo.  The people use every part of the mangrove tree.  Dry branches are used for fires that cook food for families. There is more meat to eat and nourishing milk to drink.  There is shade from the heat.

Roth and Trumbore have written a captivating picture book, that alternates with verse on the left side of the story for younger children and straightforward text on the right for older kids.  Roth’s  illustrations are a unique mixed-media collage of a variety of natural textures that represent many of the items that would be found in the village.   A part of the proceeds from the book go to The Manzanar Project to support the mangrove tree planting project.

What I like about this book:  This is a remarkable story about how one man made a difference by coming up with a simple solution to feed the poorest people living in the desert.   He ultimately transformed this poor village into a self-sufficient community.  They feel pride and ownership for their hard work.  Dr. Sato continues to dream of planting mangrove forests in many parts of the world, including Peru, Mexico,  Somalia, and in desert areas like the Sahara in Africa and Atacama Desert in South America.  Dr. Sato is a great role model for kids to learn that they too can make a difference.  This is an important book for elementary and middle grade students.

Activity:   This beautiful book teaches kids about ecology and finding solutions to feed a hungry world.  There is a lengthy Afterword in the back of the book with photos of the  work performed by the villagers.  It  is just as interesting as the book.   There is a glossary and interesting web sites.  Teachers can use this wonderful resource to encourage kids to discuss and brainstorm how they may individually or as a group make a difference in their school, community or world.  It may be as simple as contributing to a food bank, visiting veterans, picking up the trash on the school property, or planting trees around their school and community areas.  The possibilities are endless.  Everyone can make a difference.  Other resource links: Ecology Kids -Ecology Global Network.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

50 thoughts on “The Mangrove Tree – Perfect Picture Book

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am so impressed with everything about this book. I especially love that it is written to appeal to younger and older children. I also prefer this solution over Monsanto’s ideas to feed the world. 😉

    • Carol, I discovered this book after Emma Walton Hamilton had one of the authors, Cindy Trumbore as an expert guest on her webinar last fall to discuss writing nonfiction. The book and its message took my breath away. It is a simple workable solution to feed the hungry in the world. And, a book that needs to be in every school library.

  2. This is most definitely going on my TBR list for next overseas library visit. I think I may squeeze it onto our school library list too! Great idea to provide the two levels of text for broad appeal. What a great project and man to read about. This is development work at its best!

    • Joanna, every school library should own this book. After hearing Cindy Trumbore on the Children’s Hub webinar talk about writing nonfiction, I checked her book out. I was delighted at what an outstanding book it was. Yes, it is development work at its best — not high tech. Simple and practical.

      And, it is a two in one book, for younger and older children. The verse for young children is beautiful. But, the text and message for older kids is subtle and important — one man can make a difference to change the world. Hopefully it will inspire those kids who read it to realize they can do something. You would love the textured artwork.

  3. There needs to be more efforts like this in the world. Excellent example of how a small idea can make huge changes. I had no idea that Mangroves could flourish near salt water.

    • Michael, I didn’t know that about Mangrove trees. It is such a simple solution for impoverished communities around the world. Nothing high tech about it. Most important it made a community self-sufficient.

  4. This book sounds terrific! It makes me think of Heiffer International – not quite the same 🙂 but a little related 🙂 I love that there are 2 versions of the text for younger and older readers, too. Thanks for sharing, and sorry to be so late getting here – I am struggling to find my way out of the black hole of technology that swallowed me and my computer yesterday morning….!!!

    • Susanna, I’m glad you enjoyed the selection. There are many wonderful global projects, but this one stands out. Dr. Sato, is a very humble man and found a simple way to feed an entire village that didn’t involve a high tech solution. Learned about the author on the Children’s Book Hub webinar last fall. It has so many fascets to it that make it a good read. Compurter black holes aren’t good. Hope things are okay now.

  5. Don’t know why I never commented here after reading your previous post… mmm! Well you know this is right up my alley, infact, I rember reading this one in one of our libraries some time ago. The textures you describe remind me of James Rumford’s books. This is another amazing story of the efforts one person can do to make changes….( such as Big Brother Mouse) Thankyou Pat for reminding me about this book, and great review..

    • Diane, Emma had Cindy Trumbore on the Hub webinar, that’s when you probably read it. The collage textures are beautiful. And, there is some resemblance to James Rumford’s books. This book should be in every school library to encourage kids that they can make a difference. And, yes, like Big Brother Mouse. Glad you liked the review.

    • Robyn, that is so cool that you grew up around mangroves. This is a fantastic book. My library carried it. I listened to author Cindy Trumbore on one of the Children’s Book Hub webinars. That’s how I discovered the book.

    • Jennifer, I’m glad you liked my choice. I first heard the author speak on Emma Walton Hamilton’s webinars last fall about writing nonfiction. When I got a copy of this book I was just overtaken with the story and the beautiful illustrations. Dr Sato has won all kinds of awards, so you’d think it would be on some program. It is such a simple solution to feeding the world community.

  6. You’re right-our books are very similar this week! Your choice is a new book, I noticed. I really like this style of illustration-it is very similar to the style used in Listen to the Wind: The story of Dr. Greg and the Three Cups of Tea. I also like the concept of simple verse for younger children and straightforward text for older children. I can’t wait to get a copy of this book!

    • We have so much in common. I heard the author on the Children’s Book Hub webinar last fall talk about writing nonfiction. I was in so much awe when I read the book. I’d love to write books with such meaning. You’ll love the illustrations. I almost mentioned the similar style to Mortenson’s “Listen to the Wind.” (By the way, I worked on a large exhibit of Mortenson’s work for the Dayton International Peace Museum in the fall of 2010.)

  7. This sounds like a wonderful book. I love books that have a special message. Especially ones that deal with cultures and environmental issues! Wonderful addition Patricia! Have a great weekend!

    • Loni, I’lm glad you found the book of interest. Dr. Sato was a humble individual whose life work was to use his scientific background to find solutions for the hungry in the world. As an artist, you would enjoyed the collage illustrations.

  8. This sounds like a fabulous and important book on self-sufficiency for children and adults. I like Lee and Low’s publications, too. They carry strong messages without preaching. Thanks for sharing!

    • Claudine, I’m glad you found this book of interest. I loved it as it really shows kids that one person can make a difference — especially in an improverished world. I agree with you on Lee and Low’s books.

  9. What an awesome book! I liked the interview video too. This is the kind of thing I would like to do when I grow up! I would like to read the back section of the book you were talking about. I am going to check the library to see if they have it!

    • Erik, I believe I appreciated your comments the most. It is your generation that will be creative, compassionate and find solutions for the world’s problem. I love that you are already thinking that way. The book was in my library.

  10. WOW! I am literally stunned and amazed. I applied to teach in Eritrea because I researched it and it was sooo beautful. It has an interesting history and it’s a more affluent/grandeur country in Africa. It is very close to the Red Sea, too. WOW. I love the sound of this book.

    • Mimi, That is remarkable that you applied to teach in Eritrea. This is an impressive story how entire community became self-sufficient and prosperous because of one person. Since you have an interest in the area, I think you’d really enjoy it. -Pat

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