book review

Mama Miti

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Donna Jo Napoli tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the woman who planted trees.


On the highlands of Africa,

Near the forests and plains and a hue salt lick,

Wangari was born. The face of

Mount Kenya smiled down on her.

People told stories of how in the old days

Sometimes the sun shone too bright too long,

And droughts came. Creatures suffered.

Plants wilted. People fought.

So men held ceremonies under the mugumo

The spreading sacred fig tree

And the skies blessed them with shimmering rains

 to slake their thirst and water their farms.

Village elders placed staffs from the

Thigi tree between angry men,

And enemies became friends

Wangari listened to these stories. That's how she came to love and respect trees.Excerpt from the book Mama Miti.


She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace prize. In her own garden she planted trees to be able to have fruits, shade, and to refresh her spirit.  She was also a very wise and educated, being the first woman with a doctorate in Africa.  Other women would come to her with their problems.  Each time she would tell them how strong they were and then give them a tree seedling which would be the answer to their problem.


Seed by seed, woman by woman the Kenyan countryside was filled with trees. Kenya had been changed one tree at a time.

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Donna Jo Napoli is a brillant storyteller who invites us to admire Wangari Maathai but also to follow her example and take action as "keepers of the Earth."

Honoring the women who saved their country by planting trees, Kadir Nelson's stunning and colorful artwork brings the story to life with his multi-textured collages.

Something To Do:

It's very simple …..let's plant some trees. Each person on this planet needs 15 trees per year to have enough oxygen to live. A few years ago we planted a fruit orchard. By doing so we now are getting lovely fruits to eat from spring through fall. This year we will add to the orchard but we will also take part in planting in our greenbelt area here.

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A group that absolutely supports planting trees is the Arbor Day Foundation. If you don't have room to plant the trees yourself, have a fund raiser and let people like this restore forests. Let me know what you are planting. I would love to see them.

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1 thought on “Mama Miti

  1. Wow, thanks for that inspiring book recommendation and proposal to start planting trees. I know a little girl, Selina, (well, she was little once and now is 14 already) who would LOVE this book- if she knows enough English yet (We are in Germany, and she had3-4 years of structured English lessons with Grammar and before that 3 years of English play and sing along classes). She LOVES the nature and animals and has a very kind heart…Her father is from Africa, but doesn´t live with her and her mother and she only gets to see him every 3-4 years and her mother is German and white and she really needs a African role model- esp. a woman!!! This book looks like a great idea for her- I will see if I can order it here in Germany….

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