Hopkins, H. Joseph. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever. Jill McElmurry, Illus. Non-fiction. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, 2013. p. $16.99. 978-1-4424-1402-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES K-4.
“Katherine Olivia Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California,” and was the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Sessions moved to San Diego for a teaching position but became the gardener who researched and introduced trees that would flourish in the city’s desert climate. Proposing more trees for Balboa Park in preparation for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, Sessions organized volunteers to carry out her ambitious plans and became known as the “Mother of Balboa Park.” The selection of biographical information is excellent, and the lively narrative emphasizes Sessions’ indomitable spirit and vision. Gouache illustrations, reminiscent of Barbara Cooney’s art, provide a contrast between the dusty San Diego before Sessions and the lush, green Balboa Park afterward. An excellent choice for women’s history, STEM curriculum, ecology, and California units, this biography needs and deserves library promotion. An author’s note is appended.
Linda Perkins, Independent