Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The Tree Lady
Grades 1-3. A terrific jacket image shows a tiny girl in a towering forest as seen from above. Who is this girl? And why is she the tree lady? Well, turns out Katherine Olivia Sessions, who grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, always loved trees—she used to weave their leaves into necklaces and bracelets. Girls back then weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty, “but Kate did.” Girls were also discouraged from studying science, but Kate sure did, graduating from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Postgraduation, Kate moved to San Diego, a desert town with little greenery. She wrote to gardeners far and wide, seeking out seeds that would thrive in a harsh desert climate, and by the turn of the century, oaks, eucalypti, and palms sprung up throughout the city. But Kate’s biggest planting project would come in 1915 with the Panama-California Exposition, to be held in Balboa Park. Nobody thought that it would be possible to create a lush garden for the event . . . but guess who did? A little-known, can-do woman shines in this handsome picture book from Hopkins and McElmurry. Hopkins ably brings a woman’s passion—and some science—to a story that’s accessible for young children. And, oh the pictures! Both old-timey and lush, they evoke Kate’s vision perfectly, and individually labeled illustrations of trees add to the educational value. A lovely tribute to the pioneering (and environmentalist) spirit, topped off by an author’s note.