Book Review: The Mangrove Tree by Susan L. Roth

mangrove tree

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

This book tells the true story of Dr. Gordon Sato in picture book format.  The village of Hargigo in the African country of Eritrea was dry and the animals could not find enough to eat.  Dr. Sato had the idea of planting mangrove trees on the shore of the salty Red Sea.  The trees can survive the salt and would give women in the village a way to earn money close to home from planting the trees.  The trees also help by giving off oxygen too.  The goats and sheep ate the leaves from the trees and grew stronger, living longer and having healthier babies.  The mangrove trees also changed the habitat along the shore, creating hiding places for sea creatures that helped the fish grow larger and the fishermen improve their catch.  This is the story of Dr. Sato, who through science changed the lives of people not only in Hargigo, but around the world.

Trumbore has written a clever dual story here.  On one side of the page, a simple cumulative story is told of the mangrove trees by the sea.  On the other side, readers get much more detailed information about the science and impact of the planting of the trees.  Finally, at the end of the book, readers can see photographs of the actual villagers, the trees and Dr. Sato. 

Roth’s illustrations are eye-catching and inventive.  Using collage, she has created such texture, color, and natural feel.  Her illustrations have depth, showing the people at work, giving individual coats to the sheep and goats, and celebrating the bright colors the people wear.  It is a very rich illustration that celebrates the setting and the work that went into the project.

Highly recommended, this book is a beautiful mix of nonfiction and picture book that is ideal for elementary science about the environment.  It celebrates the impact that one man can have on the world, inspiring youth to think about what they can contribute too.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by BookDragon.

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