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

Growing up as a young boy in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Sundar Paliwal experienced several difficult things such as hunger, poverty and the loss of his mother at a young age. He continues to look at his community as he grows up, gets married and eventually has his own two daughters and one son. He teaches his children about the beauty and importance of all living things. But Sundar’s community and land is being destroyed by mining companies, where he works.

Sundar knows he must make change in his community and for the land around them. He quits his mining job and becomes an activist and local leader. However, when tragedy strikes yet again in Sundar’s life, he imagines an inspiring plan that will not only replenish the environment but also highlight the need for equality amongst girls and boys in his village. In honor of every girl born in the village, 111 trees will be planted!

Watching Sundar’s plan unfold and reading about all of the positive impacts it has on the community is stunning. Illustrated in saturated earth tones with spectacular block print fabric patterns interspersed throughout the pages – readers are immersed in Sundar’s village. This title offers five pages of back matter with information spanning the topics of gender inequality, activism, botany and eco-feminism.

Middle elementary (2nd-3rd) readers will enjoy this book and find connections between various subjects. Fans of other environmental activism titles such as The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever and Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the trees of Kenya will enjoy this previously untold story! This book does cover sensitive topics such as gender inequality, child marriage and the death of a parent and a child, and therefore should be addressed with the guidance of a trusted adult. Although these topics can be tough to discuss, this story can spark ideas for children who are interested in making change!

Reviewed by Samantha H.