Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

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

McElmurry, Jill (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781442414020 (hardcover)
9781442487277 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 635
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, point of view, recurring patterns, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This picture book biography of Kate Sessions, San Diego’s “Mother of Balboa Park,” draws in young readers with evocative storytelling: “It was the 1860s, and girls from Kate’s side of town weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty.” Children will learn about her strong connection to trees and her persistence in studying their science. The cadence of the language makes this a great read-aloud book, with its variations on the poetic refrain, “But Kate did.”

Painted illustrations convey the world of the late-nineteenth century. Kate’s beloved trees and plants are represented with both flair and accuracy. Moving from the greens of northern California to the ochres of the desert, these quaint, almost diagrammatic images will delight young readers with their clarity and detail. One spread shows the townspeople planting a gorgeous variety of trees into the orange soil of Balboa Park, in time for the Panama-California Exposition. In another, these same species now dominate, while tiny figures stroll in their shade.

Readers will appreciate this story of a determined woman and her gift for making positive change, turning San Diego into “the lush, leafy city it is today.”

  •  

    Discuss the meaning of the idiom “having a green thumb.” Do you or does anyone you know have an affinity or talent for gardening?

  •  

    In small groups, discuss the challenges that Sessions would have faced as a woman in the late 1800s. What qualities made her successful? Identify other famous women with similar qualities.

  •  

    Define: botanist, horticulturalist and landscape architect. What do these words have in common? Why is it so important to plant trees and maintain gardens?

  •  

    Imagine you are a landscape architect and design a green space for your schoolyard.

  •  

    Create a timeline of Kate Session’s life using data from the story.

  •  

    Research the names of the trees in your schoolyard (or nearby park). Discuss with your principal the possibility of adding permanent ID markers to your schoolyard trees so everyone can learn their names.

  •  

    Find someone who had a positive impact on your community. Write a short story about this person and present it to your peers. Create a Hall of Fame to honnor the work of people in your community.

  •  

    Explore how to obtain trees to plant in your community. N.B.: Projects are often available around Earth Day, April 22.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To solve problems
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology