The Girl Who Planted Trees

Illustrated by Anastasia Suvorova

“Soon I shall grow a whole forest”

Set in an unspecified “dry little village at the foot of a great gray mountain,” this book tells a story of a young girl who starts a reforestation project to restore the local ecosystem. After seeing the picture of a green mountain in her grandfather’s book, the girl learns how the mountain used to have trees and animals until it was logged, and the animals disappeared. She decides to recreate the forest on top of the mountain. She plants seeds and waters them, but most of the saplings die or wither. Although neighbors laugh at her, she pushes through. After a storm devastates her trees on the mountain, the girl sets up a nursery in her backyard and the trees grow amazingly. With the help of her grandfather, the girl brings the saplings to the mountain. In time, other villagers join in: “You dreamed that you could bring the forest back. Now your dream is our dream too!” As the girl becomes a woman, a mother, and a grandmother, “slowly the great grey mountain turned green” until it becomes “even more wonderful than the picture in her grandpa’s old book.” The restored forest continues to grow and brings happiness to the land.

A planetarianist book that imagines a hopeful future, The Girl Who Planted Trees is a fairy tale-styled parable about youth climate activism focused on restoration of degraded land through reforestation. The book is useful for climate literacy instruction by inviting conversations about the youth agency, activism, collective action, forests, and regeneration of degraded land. Although climate change is not named directly, the story implies that the drought and scorching heat of the girl’s village are consequences of the environment altered by logging, deforestation, land degradation, and loss of wildlife. Reforestation takes decades, requiring the girl’s determination, commitment, and community support, but the book demonstrates that with collective effort, time, and sustainable practices even the most degraded land can be returned to health. This process is also represented in watercolor illustrations, which start with the dry, sandy color palette and gradually transform into rich greens of plants and multiple colors of flowers. In time, as the forest gets stronger, the climate on the mountain and in the village improves. The book shows that young people are able to make a difference for their communities, even if they start in their own gardens. Like the girl, who “studied hard and learned to care for the land,” readers are invited to see themselves as stewards of the earth whose actions can transform today’s degraded environments into lush, biodiversity-rich forests of the future.

©2023 ClimateLit (Ashtin Gulyard)

The author’s website includes a free activity pack that is great for teachers:

Publisher: Nosy Crow, 2022

Pages: 40

ISBN: 9781788008914

Audience: Ages 0-3, Ages 4-7, Ages 8-13

Format: Picturebooks

Topics: Activism, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Loss, Collective Climate Action, Deforestation, Degraded Land, Drought, Earth Stewardship, Ecological Restoration, Environmental Degradation, Forests, Heat Waves, Land Care, Logging, Planetarianism, Reforestation, Regeneration, Sustainability, Wildlife, Youth Agency, Youth Climate Activism