7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #179: Featuring Sonia Lynn Sadler

h1 August 8th, 2010 by jules


“In her jail cell, Wangari prayed. And like a sturdy tree against a mighty wind, her faith kept her strong. Instead of giving up, she made friends with the other women prisoners. They told her their stories. She taught them about her seeds and saplings. Together, they helped one another.”

If you haven’t had your coffee or hot tea yet, the art work of Sonia Lynn Sadler just might wake you up instead. Sadler has illustrated the picture book debut—Seeds of Change from Lee & Low Books (April 2010)—of author Jen Cullerton Johnson, a biography of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. Johnson, as noted in the back of the book, relies upon Maathai’s autobiographical writing (indeed, her own memoir) to bring us the story of her life — from her childhood in Kenya to 2004, in which she was awarded the “prestigious peace prize.”

Sadler’s art work, outlined in bold, thick white lines, is stirring and stylized and stunning. “Sadler’s beautiful scratchboard illustrations,” writes Kirkus, “incise white contoured line into saturated landscapes of lush green leaf patterns, brilliant-hued textiles and undulating, stylized hills.” Kirkus calls the book no less than “{v}ibrant and accomplished.” Publishers Weekly adds, “Trees, leaves, and water are simplified into elemental shapes, giving the whole the appearance of a tropically colored quilt.” It’s beautiful stuff, and I’m happy to share some art from it today.

Before I do that, though, I must quickly mention: There are, evidently, several new titles out about Maathai. I’ve only seen this other one—Donna Jo Napoli’s Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, written in a very different style from Johnson’s text and published by Simon & Schuster in January of this year—and I mean to tell you that the art work in this one will also blow. you. away. This is Kadir Nelson collaging African textiles with oil paintings, and it’s one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve seen all year. JAW-DROPPING beauty. “Dazzling,” wrote The Washington Post. Don’t miss that one, too.

Now back to Sadler’s art and Johnson’s text. Enjoy! (And note: Here’s an interview with both the author and illustrator.)


“‘Go,’ her mother said. She picked up a handful of earth and placed it gently into her daughter’s hand. ‘Where you go, we go.'”


“Wangari traveled to villages, town, and cities with saplings and seeds, shovels and hoes. At each place she went, women planted rows of trees that looked like green belts across the land. Because of this they started calling themselves the Green Belt Movement. ‘We might not change the big world but we can change
the landscape of the forest,’ she said.”

SEEDS OF CHANGE © 2010 by Jen Cullerton Johnson. Illustrations © 2010 by Sonia Lynn Sadler. Used with the permission of Lee & Low Books.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * * * * *

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Hi, everyone. I’m going to hold my kicks for next week. My grandmother passed away this week—sad, yes, but she lived a long life (was going to turn 99 in November)—and so we’re off to a funeral today. Given that and a four-year-old with a broken arm, I’m glad it’s Sunday and a new week. But all is well, and I’m still grateful for the kicks that do exist.

You can cheer things up around here on a day of saying goodbye by telling me your kicks. Please oh please do! You know I always like to hear from you, dear readers (even if my own blog-reading is PATHETICALLY slow these days)…Do tell.

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19 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #179: Featuring Sonia Lynn Sadler”

  1. Jules…
    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother; but it must be a consolation that 98 years is quite a lifetime. And I know you felt bad-motherish about not identifying your daughter’s broken arm immediately. But hey, it happens. My sympathies go out to you and yours.

    The art above is so bright, joyous and brimming! What a mix of cheer and solemnity this week. I hope the happy art around you helps lighten your grief.

    I guess I’ll share the kicks I had noted and saved for today:

    1. A week with breathing room (inhaaaaale, exhaaaaaale.)

    2. Guilty pleasures: a Baskin Robbin’s banana royale sundae — instead of dinner.

    3. Finding the perfect music to write to (now, the soundtrack from Practical Magic.)

    4. How easy and good it is to simply be kind to someone.

    5. Raccoon hand/paw prints leading away from my little front yard fountain (I guess they wash their food there.) I’m planning to spy on them – next time I’m awake at 3am.

    6. My high school son packed everything HIMSELF for his 8 day service trip to help save sea turtles in Costa Rica. He went right down the required packing list, check, check, check without a single question, whine or search-for-that request for Mom. Maturity dawns…

    7. And I had a poignant short film to share — but it is much too sad. Another time…

    A nod and well wishes to all for a healthy and happy upcoming week.


  2. So sorry to hear about your grandmother, Jules! And I didn’t know about the broken arm. What a week you’ve had. Sending hugs and prayers your way!

    Seeds of Change looks gorgeous! I felt uplifted the moment I saw the first spread.

    Amen to kick #4, Denise. And your son’s trip to Costa Rica sounds amazing.

    It’s been a quiet week here, except for the big thunderstorm that took down one of our trees. My kick is that it missed the house. Yesterday, four bucks were happily munching on leaves and acorns. For them, this was an unexpected feast. Nature has her ways; it’s always interesting.

    Oh, I do have another kick. alphabet soup is celebrating it’s third birthday (post tomorrow). Because I was brave enough to start a blog, I’ve gotten to meet so many fantastic people in the kidlit world. 🙂

    Have a good week, everyone!


  3. Jules, may the warm memeories f your grandmother carry you and your family through this time. No matter how old, how expected or unexpected, we are never ready to lose a loved one. And healing thoughts to your daughter. The good thing is that kids seem to heal fast.
    I love the vibracy of the artwork in this story of Wangari Maathai. I am familiar with Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter.
    Denise, I love your guilty pleasure and how cool that your son is going to Costa Rica to save sea turtles.
    My kicks:
    1. An afternoon spent with two blogging friends. I discovered a fabulous new Vietnamese place to eat. http://www.jadeteahouse.com/ Salad rolls, delish!
    2. A secret garden in Portland which I will frequent through out the seasons for photos.
    3. Can’t put down The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, finally got into it!
    4. Seven days of writing 15 minutes a day, thanks to Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog.
    5. Knowing that I am not a crazy old lady with random aches and pains, there really is problems with my right knee as shown on the MRI.
    6. Turning in the 6 photos to the county fair exhibit. (They are posted and labeled on FB)
    7. Looking forward to next weekend: Bodega Bay with my college dorm buddies! It will be a brief check in next week if at all.
    Have a great week.


  4. We passed each other Jama, happy blog birthday!


  5. My thoughts are with you and your family, Jules. I am so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Hugs to the broken – may she heal quickly and fully.

    Denise: Little raccoon prints! How cute. BIG kudos to your son for his volunteer work and his preparedness.

    Jama: Happy soup birthday!

    Jone: I like the sound of a secret garden.

    My kicks for the past week:

    1) Audition
    2) Possible booking
    3) Rehearsals for show #3 (we open on Thursday!)
    4) A great closing performance for show #2 (Good performances and a PACKED house – people were sitting and standing in the aisles!)
    5) Wishing
    6) Accomplishments
    7) Crossing things off of the to-do list


  6. Jules, I’m so sorry for your loss. And I hope the extra care-taking goes smoothly. And the cast doesn’t get itchy.

    I love Seeds of Change, and also the other Wangari Maathi book: we just can’t have too many.

    Denise, so wonderful about your son. Jama, I’m so happy you started your blog and we all get to know you! Jone, hope diagnosis brings speedy recovery (we knew you weren’t crazy). Little Willow, yay on the many accomplishments.

    Big kick is an imminent visit from my sister and three of her kids, so I should be changing sheets and buying cereal, not here. But was caught by the gorgeous art and friends, much more fun than the grocery store.


  7. Hi, everyone!

    Jules, again, so sorry at your unhappy news of the last few days. I’m glad your grandmother had such a long life, and had at least one WONDERFUL grandchild to ease her way through it.

    (And funny coincidence about the broken arm — reminder that healing comes in many forms, sometimes when we didn’t even know we needed it.)

    Love those scratchboards!

    Denise, very cool about the youngster’s packing for the trip. (Announces: I’m on my way. Which is probably an ambivalent-making thought.) And also, as Little Willow said, about the reason for the trip.

    Jama: congrats on blogiversary #3!

    I’m reading Girl with…, too, Jone. (About 2/3 through it.) A very, well, uncharacteristic “thriller,” it seems to me; “finally got into it” probably describes many readers’ responses.

    Little Willow, I think the ink you use up crossing off to-do lists is probably more ink than most people use for all other purposes combined. Good for you on all of it. Your #5, especially — that’s where all those to-do items spring from, maybe?

    Love that feeling of company’s-coming, Jeannine! (Even if it’s mixed with holy-crap! feelings sometimes. :))

    Kicks: Light bulbs going on. The feeling of remembering exactly the right word you want to use, especially when it’s an odd one. Good news about pets’ health. Responsive A/C repairmen. The way that new work sweeps aside boredom. The song “Tangerine.” Beer cocktails.


  8. Jules, I add my condolences about the death of your grandmother. Mazel tov to 98 years! Why does it seem so short?

    Today is the seventh anniversary of my brother Bart’s death. My daughter is also seven, and he died three months after she was born, so they never got to meet. She periodically says, “I wish I had gotten to meet my uncle Bart!” I tell her that he wanted to meet her too, and was saving up money to come to Seattle to visit her. Bart’s death set off a chain of events that prompted my other brother to move to Seattle, so I am glad that my daughter knows one of her uncles on my side of the family.

    Nice things this week:

    1. We attended a double-birthday party hosted by our former neighbors. At one point, the father said some things that I really didn’t agree with. I thought about them, and then said, “I don’t agree with everything you said, but I do respect you as a thinking person.” I waited for the earth to swallow me up, and it didn’t– he smiled and said it was a good thing, because we needed different opinions in the world. I often don’t want to get into arguments with people (because I don’t think they work, and they end up alienating people more), but I don’t want my silence to equal assent.

    2. Molly Moon’s “Scout Mint” ice cream. Do an internet search for Molly Moon’s ice cream, and then send me a note telling me when you’re coming to Seattle. “You” is the general readership of SevenImp. 🙂

    3. Raspberries!

    4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins will be out in a couple of weeks.

    5. I realize I am happiest when I am creating. Why this is a revelation I don’t know.

    6. I was reading Richard Dawkins’s Unweaving the Rainbow (some parts good, some parts convoluted), and I was so grateful when toward the end, he mentioned prosopagnosia, sometimes called “face blindness.” It’s a part of our life (a family member has it), and a lot of people don’t know about it.

    7. As much as I do not like to be woken up in the morning, I do get tickled when my daughter’s first words are, “Good morning, Mommy. What’s smaller than a quark? What does an atom really look like?”


  9. Thanks, Jeannine!

    Thanks to Sonia Lynn Sadler for dropping by on this Sunday morning. Jules, thanks for sharing images with such vibrant colors.

    JES: Yay for happy, healthy pets! *grin* I tend to keep my to-do lists electronic to conserve paper and ink, actually. Really! I’m a stickler for using things completely and/or reusing and/or recycling them when possible. When I have to write lists down, I use the back of a used sheet of paper.

    Farida: I am sorry that your daughter never had the chance to meet her uncle. Yay for smart quirky quark kids. I am familiar with the fictional Molly Moon, but not the ice cream maker.


  10. I love how we check back in and continue to comment. So cool.
    Farida, I may have to come to Seattle for Molly Moon Ice Cream, especially the salted caramel. Sorry for the loss of your brother, annivesaries are tough. Love the morning conversation opener about quarks.
    Jes glad to hear the pooch is healthy. Jeannine have fun with sis and family.


  11. I’m circling back round in the afternoon as well:
    jules – miss your voice; but so glad you’re giving yourself quiet off-screen time. Take care.
    jama – Happy 3rd Blogiversay!
    jone – If your fair photos are as stunning as the ones posted at Solace au Naturel you’re sure to win a ribbon (isn’t that what they do at fairs?)
    Little Willow – good performances to a packed house: clap! clap! clap!
    Jeanine – enjoy your family visit.
    JES – watched the Beer Cocktail vid. (!) More guilty pleasures on my horizon.
    Farida – Wow; cool kid. My husband mentions quarks & leptons – but he was a physics major.

    Yes indeed, the sea turtle conservation project is a very good thing. Global warming has made the depth the turtle-moms bury their eggs too hot of an incubator; baby sea turtles cook in their shells. But if they are buried deeper – they can’t dig out and escape to the ocean. The teens and other rescue workers comb the beach at night looking for new nests, mark them, then transfer the eggs to a hatchery for safe development. The first batches of baby turtles that were salvaged in June should be hatching when Max and his 3 friends are there. They will help the little hatchlings get safely into the waves as well. Go sea turtles!


  12. Hi, everyone. Thanks for the nice sentiments on a day of saying goodbye. A quick hello here before I hit the sack:

    Denise, safe travels to your son. And your guilty pleasure is my kind of guilty pleasure.

    Jama, I’m still so glad your house is okay, and happy blog birthday in advance! The world is a better place because of your cyber-home.

    Jone, I’m with everyone else: We already knew you weren’t crazy. I hope you have a great time next weekend.

    Little Willow, I’m so happy to hear about great closing performances! One day, all of us kickers will see you in a show.

    Jeannine, hope the visit goes well, and we’re happy you stopped by here, even though you have so much to do.

    John, beer cocktails! And your pooch in good health! Yay! And woot!

    Farida, I love your kick #1, and I’m sorry about this seventh anniversary. They’re hard, I know.

    I hope I didn’t forget anyone. I’m worn. out.


  13. jules, sorry to hear about grandmother — sad to have a loss like that. . . and, did we hear a story about the broken arm? amazing that these little active girls can get so broken-y! okay, your post from your blog on Wangari Mataai is fantastic and I appreciate you pointing us to both books. Thanks – I will co teach this fall and need your heads up, for sure.
    My kicks:
    1. pressure cooker canning tomato sauce (2 dozen quarts);
    2. pressure cooker canning pears and ginger (so far, 12 pints and more to go!)
    3. organizing and offering a UU service on FOOD: ‘ethical eating” and locavore and our new soup kitchen — the folks who helped me were like good ingredients in a dish, so wonderful, thoughtful and mindful and we did ourselves proud. . .
    onto this week! love to you in your daily do’s. was that THE anne mazer who FB’d a comment on this blog today? WOWOWOWOWWOW!


  14. Jinx, that sounds like a fabulous UU class, and I know they were in good hands. And, yes, you’d love both of these picture books. Someone noted in a comment above that Jeannette Winter has one about Maathai, too.


  15. Love, love the art this week, love the colors and the way it all seems to spring off the page.

    Jules, so sorry about your grandmother, but hurrah for 98 years. SEnding good thoughts your way. And hope that broken arm heals quickly.

    Denise – a sundae for dinner sounds perfect.

    Jama – congrats on your blogoversary!

    Jone, have a great time! And the next 2 books in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series are even more compelling. Its a fun read, but that first book does seem to take longer to get into.

    LW – sounds like a great week!

    JES – so happy pup is healthy! And beer cocktails, yum.

    My quick kicks, since I’m late:

    Went to Bend for an 80th birthday party this past week. Saw good friends, ate and drank too much of everything, and danced with a man who knows how to lead! (It was the birthday boy.) There was also whitewater rafting, hiking, cooking red beans & rice, and even time for a mani-pedi with a fun 14 year old.

    Amazing how just a few days away can totally recharge you. (After recovering from all the drinking and dancing, that is.)

    Have a great week!


  16. Jules,

    So sorry to hear about the death of your grandmother. I’m sure you and your two little cherubs brought her much joy during her lifetime.

    Hope that broken arm heals fast.

    That is some stunning artwork by Sadler. Absolutely gorgeous!

    Nothing much going on in my life at the moment. My daughter and her husband had a great time on their two-week honeymoon in Ireland. They returned with lots of funny stories. My husband and I brought dinner to their house a week ago Sunday–and spent the day with them. We saw them again at a “Murphy” family party this past Saturday. One of Sara’s “new” nephews is heading off to Texas–he joined the Air Force–so we had a celebration for him. (I have such fun when I’m with my daughter and her husband. I wish they lived a little closer.)

    I’m nearly finished with my “Things to Do” poetry collection–and hope to submit to a publisher next month.


  17. Rachel, that sounds like a super fun time.

    Elaine, so glad they had a good honeymoon. Good luck submitting your poetry collection!


  18. Somehow didn’t catch this the first time round so really glad to to find it now. Mama Miti was a hit in our home (http://www.playingbythebook.net/2010/08/12/trees-leaves-and-sandwich-boards/) but I love the look and colours of seeds of change. I can imagine some of the images working really well in stained glass.


  19. […] Award for her illustrations in Jen Cullerton Johnson’s Seeds of Change, featured here at 7-Imp last August. Kirkus, in describing this book as “{v}ibrant and accomplished,” […]


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