Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Environment
Ages: 5-9 years
Publisher: NorthSouth Books
Publication Date: April 18th, 2023
Buy at: Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | BooksAMillion | Amazon | Add to Goodreads
“Trees don’t grow on sandbars… Go plant them yourself… “
Can one person with limited resources single-handedly plant a forest? Jadav Payeng did precisely that. He proved that all it takes is one individual and the determination to make a difference.
Back in 1979, as the flooding waters of the mighty river Brahmaputra receded, it deposited hundreds of water snakes on the sandbars. These snakes perished in the scorching heat due to a lack of tree cover. The sight prompted a young teenager, the son of a poor buffalo trader from the Mishing tribe in Assam, to build a forest. With no support from the elders and a bag of bamboo seedlings from the forest department, he began to plant trees on the sandbars.
Today, three decades later, the dense Molai forest (bearing his nickname) has grown into a flourishing one of almost 1,300 acres. His story was untold until a wildlife photographer accidentally discovered the forest in 2009. He was recognized and awarded with the Padma Shri in 2015 and is known as the Forest Man of India. Not to rest on his laurels, he aims to continue converting Brahmaputra’s barren sandbars and islands into forests.
Award-winning author Rina Singh and debut illustrator Ishita Jain share his inspiring story in The Forest Keeper – The True Story of Jadav Payeng. The incredible story of an environmentalist from Assam. The young teenager who achieved the impossible with just a bag of bamboo seedlings, a stick, and a few jugs of water.
The author has always been drawn to sharing stories of underrepresented people doing extraordinary things. As an #ownvoice author, she shares stories young Indian children can identify with. The colorful watercolor illustrations by Ishita Jain are a treat and perfectly complement the story, engaging the young reader.
Growing up in India, we had limited access to books on the environment. And the ones available weren’t much identifiable. All of 40 pages, the book fits the bill if you are a young Indian parent. That said, the concept of the book is universal and would appeal to children worldwide.
Picture books are an excellent way to introduce young children to ecology and environmental stewardship. Raising environmentally responsible children is the need of the hour. Children of today are going to inherit this damaged earth from us. It is never too early to start them on environmentalism to help create a sustainable future for us all.
The book is also an excellent conversation starter. What is a forest? What is monsoon? What do trees need to survive? What is Earth Day? Why do we celebrate it? And most importantly – what can we do to save the environment?
“Let there be trees.” A healthy planet is a gift that keeps on giving. I highly recommend you pick the book to enjoy with your young reader. Perfect for the Earth Day and beyond.
About the author
Rina Singh is an award-winning children’s book author and spoken word coach. She has an MFA in creative writing and has written many critically acclaimed books for children. As a writer, she is drawn to real-life stories about social justice and the environment. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and have received many starred reviews. Her book Grandmother School won the Christie Harris Children’s Literature Prize, and 111 Trees was featured in The New York Times. A lover of poetry, photography, beautiful books, trees, and monks, she lives with her husband and Japanese koi in a blue house in Toronto.
About the illustrator
Ishita Jain is an illustrator from Delhi, India, though she is now based in New York. She is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India, and the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Ishita loves to draw on location and enjoys documenting the people, places, and stories that surround her. Her work is inspired by day-to-day moments and the wonder that comes from being around nature. The Forest Keeper is Ishita’s first picture book.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher NorthSouth Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Bohemian Bibliophile.
April 14, 2023 @ 4:53 am
yes, picture books work great for explaining complex topic like ecology to kids well. it seems author Rina singh and illustrator ishita has put so much efforts and hardwork to making this appealing for kids. will suggest this book to my brother for my niece. I am sure, they will love it.
April 14, 2023 @ 8:03 pm
This is really an inspiring story. I believe too on what you said that its just determination and one person that can make difference this book is such an example. I was stunned how this boy overcame all obstacle as no one was beside him and planted so many trees all alone . We must also contribute in our lives towards making everything around productive and beautiful.
April 15, 2023 @ 4:37 am
My grandsons would love to hear this story. It is an amazing feat indeed. The amount of time, dedication and zeal to do something worthwhile are obvious. I would rather ask every human being to plant a tree. If we do not save our forests, we won’t have animals. Soon we will be like robotic morons carrying an oxygen tank on our backs. What a sad after for Mother Earth. Your review is very candid and convincing..
April 15, 2023 @ 3:15 pm
I really like picture books. They make reading fun, even as an adult I enjoy them. I will certainly read this as the forest man has done such awesome work also. I have been to Majuli, but unfortunately not on the side that the forest has grown.
April 15, 2023 @ 4:04 pm
This sounds like a beautiful book and an essential read for children. The sooner everyone learns that they have the power to make a difference, the better
April 16, 2023 @ 10:25 am
Illustrated books are my weakness as somehow I revisit my childhood when I read such books. I started my reading journey as a kid with illustrated books… do you remember ” Amar Chitra Katha” I was a die heart fan of this series. So coming to this book review .. you have a unique style of writing reviews which i really like and admire. From your review I can make an idea the book is a beautiful children book which I will love to read and in coming days will make my boy read to incorporate reading habits in me. Thank you so much for the wonderful review.
April 16, 2023 @ 11:19 am
This is a great book for kids. They will learn how to respect the environment and look after the nature and the illustrations will be eye catching and hence they will learn faster. great review as always.
April 16, 2023 @ 1:28 pm
The story is so inspiring and I’m sure the illustrations make it all the more interesting. I m going to get this for my younger one. Thank you for the review Ritu.
April 16, 2023 @ 1:37 pm
This is such a beautiful book. It is sad to see that many people did not even know about Payeng until the photographer discovered the forest. It goes show many unsung heroes keep doing whatever they can to save the environment without looking for recognition.
April 16, 2023 @ 1:46 pm
Your book reviews are fabulous as always. And this book I placed an order for reading your review alone. Conservation is of utmost importance in this age of global warming and climate change and I believe people like Jadav Peyang and his good deeds and efforts should be made more popular and out in the open.
April 16, 2023 @ 2:56 pm
This book will definitely help kids grow closer to nature. The review looking at the book cover was something that I least expected. Never that that a book cover would have such a true story.
April 16, 2023 @ 2:58 pm
Your review as always Awesome. This will be great books for kids. With picture presentation kids will learn about environment. I will going to order.
April 16, 2023 @ 7:05 pm
Ritu I always trust your reviews and buy books based on them. What beautiful illustrations!! And because it’s a true story, I’m sure that’s a beautiful one too. Will surely refer it to friends who have kids of that age group.
April 16, 2023 @ 8:25 pm
This illustration is speaking to my soul! My daughter is a total bookworm and art fiend, so I just know she’ll go bananas for this book. It’s like the ultimate summer vacay present for her! I’m hitting that order button pronto.
April 16, 2023 @ 10:09 pm
A colourful illustrave book on environment for children based on a true story seems to a interesting read.
April 17, 2023 @ 9:24 am
This story is so inspiring! It’s really amazing what someone can do in the simplest way and make a great impact not only on himself, and on others, but on the world as well. I applaud the ones who thought of making his story into a book so his story can inspire more people. Making it a children’s story is also a great idea as this could inspire children to make a difference in the world.
April 17, 2023 @ 9:20 pm
Such a beautiful story and so inspiring. Will be a good read for elders. Thank you for such a lovely review that builds interest in a book.
April 18, 2023 @ 8:29 am
I must say that the illustrations are mind blowing! I can look at them forever! The book looks really interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Noor Anand Chawla
April 30, 2023 @ 9:00 pm
Seems like a lovely book about a truly inspirational story. I’ll pick it up for my son.