The Tree Lady — Arbor Day, April 25

The Tree Lady9781442414020_p0_v4_s260x420The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

H. Joseph Hopkins, Author

Jill McElmurry, Illustrator

Beach Lane Books, Biography, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes: Kate Olivia Sessions, Horticulturists, Trees, San Diego, Nature

Opening: “Katherine Olivia Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California. She gathered leaves from oaks and elms. She collected needles from pines and redwoods. And she braided them together with flowers to make necklaces and bracelets.”

Book Synopsis: Trees were Kate Sessions’ best friends.  She spent a lot of time in the woods in the 1860s. Her passion for the natural world led her to study science in college at the University of California.  She was the first woman to graduate with a degree in 1881. Her first teaching job took her to San Diego in 1883. You can imagine her shock when she arrived in this desert town. Most San Diegans didn’t think trees could grow, but Kate did.  She left her teaching job and began to research trees that could grow in a hot and dry desert. This young woman began to collect seeds of trees that would grow in San Diego from all over the world.  She began to garden and plant trees. Soon people began to buy trees from Kate’s nursery and planted them in their yards and around the city. In 1909 the city leaders announced that a great fair was coming to San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1915. The entire town volunteered to plant trees — millions to be exact. Kate became known as the Mother of Balboa Park.

Why I like this book:  This is a perfect book Arbor Day book.  H. Joseph Hopkins has written a story that portrays Kate as gutsy and passionate conservationist who literally transformed a desert town into the beautiful, lush green city it is today. More importantly his story teaches kids that if you have vision, determination, perseverance, you can make a difference in the world. That’s what Kate did. This is a wonderful classroom book and can be used in many different ways.  Jill McElmurry’s beautiful illustrations match the era and will certainly appeal to children.

Resources: There is a more detailed Author’s Note at the end of the book that gives the reader a lot more information about Kate Session and the celebrated work she did during her lifetime.  With Arbor Day and Earth Day close together, it is a great time to plant trees in areas in need of greenery.  This is a great project for kids to do through school, scouting programs and with families. Check out the Arbor Day Foundation for ways to get involved at home and in your community.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Sheila Says We’re Weird

Sheila Says We’re Weird

Ruth Ann Smalley, Author

Jennifer Emery, Illustrator

Tilbury House Publishers, Fiction, April 2011

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and up

Themes:  Energy Conservation, Green Living, Neighbors, Differences

Opening Sheila lives next door.  She’s friends with my little sister, Tina.  Sheila asks lots of questions.  She hangs over the back fence when we peg clothes on the line.  “Why Don’t you drop those in the dryer?  Did it break?  Sheila asks.”  “This is our solar dryer, Sheila.  The clothes get dry without using any electricity.”

Synopsis:  Sheila follows her neighbors through the seasons when they plant a garden and grow their own food, mow the lawn with a push mower, brew sun tea, ride bicycles to the farmer’s market to buy local food,  mulch trees and plants with leaves, and use a wood burning stove to warm the house.   She finds their lifestyle interesting, but unfamiliar and weird.   But, Sheila enjoys the home-grown meals made with fresh vegetables and playing with Tina in front of the fire.  Perhaps they are weird in a good way.

Why I like this book:  What a great way to introduce kids to energy conservation!  Ruth Ann Smalley, is a holistic educator that writes about green living.  She won a Moonbeam Bronze Award for Picture Books for her book.  Living green can be a tough subject for kids who are used to modern conveniences.  But, it is important.  And Smalley has tackled the subject in a fun way.

Resources:  Click on Tilbury House Publishers  and Reach and Teach for activities and resources in the classroom.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.