111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl
written by Rina Singh
illustrated by Marianne Ferrer
Kids Can Press, 2020
978-1-5253-0120-9 (hc) $19.99
for Ages 6-10

Non-fiction Picture Book | India | Sex Discrimination | Gender Inequality 

Sundar lives in a rural Indian village, growing up in the economic tradition that welcomes baby boys but sees girls as a financial burden. Later as village head, recognizing the repercussions of this injustice, he seeks ways the community can celebrate females, including those he has loved and lost. Overcoming resistance stemming from age-old beliefs, Sundar ensures that 111 hardy trees are planted each time a girl is born. This new custom simultaneously raises the profile of women, counteracts industrial environmental damage and provides employment opportunities that raise living standards. Additionally, Sundar suggests a system to provide for girls’ education, which eventually resulted in reduced child marriages.

The book is written as a readable, simply told story in an attractive picture book format. End-notes with photographs provide more detail on the complexity of Sundar’s initiative to help adults provide necessary context. Readers are also encouraged to become involved ‘eco-feminists,’ and related organizations are listed.  Complementary illustrations using watercolour, gouache and graphite are rich with colourful, busy scenes of traditional village life enhanced with stylized Indian art motifs.

The CitizenKid series aims to encourage children to be pro-active in effecting positive change and make them aware of global cultures. This title harbours a wealth of subject matter to help children understand their world. Whether it is the difference made by one person in bringing about change, understanding environmental issues or societal injustices, this book is resplendent with thought-provoking information presented in an entertaining and attractive way.

 Aileen Wortley is a retired Children’s Librarian from Toronto

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