Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest by Rebel Girls, Eugenia Mello #BookReview #ChildrensBooks

Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest


From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes the historical novel based on the life of Dr. Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist from Kenya.

Wangari lives in a magical place in rural Kenya where the soil is rich for planting, the trees abundant, and the nearby pond full of mysterious creatures. She drinks from cool, clean streams and plays beneath her favorite fig tree under her mother’s watchful gaze.

Then Wangari grows up and goes away to school, and things start changing at home. Farmers chop down the trees. Landslides bury the stream. The pond dries up. The soil becomes overworked, dry, and unusable for planting. And people go hungry. Dr. Wangari Maathai has a simple solution to all of these problems: plant trees.

My review contains spoilers.

Wangari is a young girl living in rural Kenya, Africa where she enjoys nature, family, and does very well in school. At first, she isn’t able to attend school because she and many other girls are required to stay with their families to help out around the home, but her mother finally decides it’s time to let her become a student just like her older brother. Wangari does very well and eventually receives a scholarship to attend university in the United States. When she arrives in the U.S. in 1960, she’s met with adversity due to her skin color. Even so, once again she excels in school, graduating after six years of education, and then eventually making her way back to Kenya.

When Wangari arrives back in Kenya to see her family, things have changed. The government is changing the landscape, and Wangari knows she needs to stop them before the whole of Kenya becomes a desert. What can she do?

“Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times, but all of them picked themselves up and kept going, and that is what I have always tried to do.”

We recently discovered the Rebel Girls series after finding this book, Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest. What an important book series which brings attention to many different phenomenal women! Dr. Wangari Maathai is a true visionary who takes matters into her own hands, and stands up for what she believes in—for what’s right—even if it means risking her life. Her main goal becomes stopping the powerful and corrupt government from degrading the lands in Africa. She becomes an environmental conservationist that saves the lands of Africa, eventually becoming the founder of the Green Belt Movement, and moving on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

This truly is a wonderful story about strength in the face of adversity. It’s a must read. My kids and I became profoundly inspired after reading it. Children will learn about courage, using their voice, and caring for the natural environment around them.

For children reading chapter books, this is easy to finish in one sitting. It’s written in chronological order and in a clear and concise manner, making it easy for younger readers to understand. There are full-color illustrations throughout the text and bonus activities in the back.

I highly recommend this book for schools, homes, and libraries. There is an excellent audio version which can be used with or without the physical book. We hope to read the other installments in this series as well.


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Publisher : Rebel Girls; Illustrated edition (February 25, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1733329218
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1733329217
  • Reading age : 6 – 9 years
  • Grade level : 1 – 4
Former U.S. Senator and President Barack Obama with Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai in Nairobi, Kenya, August 2006

More about Dr. Wangari Maathai:

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.In June 2009, Maathai was named as one of PeaceByPeace.com’s first peace heroes.Until her death, Maathai served on the Eminent Advisory Board of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA).Maathai died on 25 September 2011 in Nairobi while receiving ovarian cancer treatment. She was 71.Goodreads

Thanks for reading my review! Have you read any books about Dr. Wangari Maathai?

❤️ Mischenko

13 thoughts on “Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest by Rebel Girls, Eugenia Mello #BookReview #ChildrensBooks

  1. Excellent review Jen. I have not heard of Dr. Wangari Maathai, but she sounds like a very inspirational person. I will see if I can find this series. I agree that it sounds like a great series.


  2. Pingback: Late March/April Wrap-Up #Books #BookReviews #Music #ReadingChallenge – ReadRantRock&Roll

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