Eliza's Cherry Trees

Japan's Gift to America
Gr 4—6—Author, photographer, and the first woman to have an important role at the National Geographic Society, Eliza Scidmore grew up in the late 1800s in her mother's boardinghouse in Washington, DC. She loved to travel, and after college and a trip to Alaska, she visited her older brother, who was living in Japan. Scidmore fell in love with the country and its people, and especially with its cherry trees. On returning to Washington, she began thinking about bringing the trees to her homeland and pursued her dream for more than 20 years. Finally, she wrote a letter to President Taft's wife, who loved the idea. Two thousand trees arrived in Washington in 1910 but had to be destroyed due to disease; three thousand were successfully planted two years later. This is an inspiring, heartwarming story of determination and spirit. The writing flows well, and the lush illustrations are reminiscent of Impressionist paintings. They give a solid sense of the time period and locations. Because of its picture-book format, this title may get lost in the nonfiction area, so collections will want to highlight it.—DeAnn Okamura, San Mateo County Library, CA
Straightforward (if wordy) text describes the dogged efforts of Eliza Scidmore to have the famous Washington, D.C., cherry trees--symbol of Japanese-U.S. friendship--brought to this country in 1912. Scidmore was ahead of her time as a writer, traveler, photographer, and National Geographic Society member, and readers may be inspired by her work. Impressionistic paintings (some blurry) accompany the narrative. No sources are provided. Timeline.

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