THE TREE LADY

by Nancy Bo Flood on November 7, 2013

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 THE  TREE  LADY, written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

The Tree Lady tells about the unusual and amazing life of Kate Sessions who lived at a time when girls were NOT supposed to play outside digging in the dirt and were NOT supposed to climb trees or wander in the woods gathering armfuls of leaves, acorns, and pine needles. Other girls were careful not to get their starched white petticoats muddy or wrinkled.  But not Kate!  She was interested in everything, especially trees.  Eventually, because of her love of  trees and her stubborn determination, Kate planted a whole park of trees – a whole city of trees.  People said, “Impossible!  Trees won’t grow in San Diego. It’s just barren dry desert.”  Kate said, “Just give me a chance.”

Kate grew up in northern California in the middle of the 1860’s.  She liked school and she loved science. She liked studying about the “wind and rain, muscles and bones, plants and trees.”

After high school Kate went to college.  What a gutsy girl.  Other young women were getting married and learning the skills of homemaking.  But not Kate.  In 1881, Katherine Olivia Sessions became the very first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science.  Science?!   A girl studying science?  Unheard of!

The illustrations and narrations in The Tree Lady delightfully convey Kate’s love and passion for learning about and growing all sorts of trees.  Whatever she grew, Kate shared. What remarkable gifts Kate Sessions gave to our country.  Kate figured out what kind of trees from other parts of the world would grow and thrive in the desert climate of southern California and throughout the southwest.  Kate sent for seeds from many different countries, grew seedlings, and planted her trees in what later became the famous Balboa Park in San Diego, one of the most beautiful city parks in the world.  Kate stubbornly led the way to increase public awareness and appreciation for conservation of all green growing things, and of course, especially trees.  Kate was awarded many honors for her work in horticulture but her favorite of all was her honorary title, Kate Sessions, Mother of Balboa Park.

Published by Beach Lane Books,  Simon & Schuster, NY, 2013

 

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