The Boy Who Grew A Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
Sophia Gholz, Author
Kayla Harren, Illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press, Biography, March 2019
Suitable for ages: 5- 8
Themes: Jadav Payeng, Forests, India, Environmentalism, Foresters, Conservation
Opening: “In India, on a large river island, among farms and families hard at work, there lived a boy who loved trees. Trees meant shade, food and shelter for many.”
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was saddened as he saw the deforestation and erosion of India’s Brahmaputra River region, the place he called home. He found dead snakes and feared that same thing would happen to the villagers. He shared his fears with the village elders who gave Jada 20 bamboo seedlings. He planted them on a sandbar, devised a watering system and brought rich soil to encourage growth. They trees flourished and became a healthy thicket. Jada wanted to do more, so he began cultivating the land — and planting more trees and plants. What began as a small thicket of bamboo grew over the years into a 1,330-acre forest filled with native plants and wildlife. His story reminds us all the difference a single person with a big idea can make.
Why I like this book:
This is such a timely book for young people and a perfect Earth Day read. Young Jadav’s decision to try to make a difference in his community will inspire and empower young readers to get involved in conservation projects to protect the environment. The text is sparse and supported by rich, lush and stunning illustrations that move the story forward. Each two-page spread allows readers to pour over the artwork, ask questions and discuss Jadav’s conservation work. Today the entire forest has been named after Jadav “Molai” Payeng–Molai Forest.
Jadav’s story is an excellent read-aloud in classrooms. Jadav models that one child can make a difference. Hopefully it will inspire students to think about what they can do in their own communities to create a healthier environment for everyone.
Favorite quotes: “Only by growing plants, the Earth will survive.” Jadav Payeng
“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now.” – proverb
Resources: Make sure you check out the Author’s Note about Jadav’s ideas on reforestation and Plant a Forest of Your Own by growing and planting seeds. Great ideas and directions for home or school. Encourage kids to get involved in projects for Earth Day, April 22.
Sophia Gholz is a children’s book author and lover of trees. She grew up in northern Florida, surrounded by oak trees and longleaf pine forests. But Sophia’s favorite trees are the willows she encountered while visiting Australia as a child. Favorite aside, she believes that all trees are equally important. Today, Sophia lives by the beach with her family, where she spends he time researching, writing, and dreaming about faraway places. The Boy Who Grew a Forest is Sophia’s debut picture book. Visit Sophia at her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Reviewed from a library copy.