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

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh; illustrated by Marianne Ferrer. 2020. Watercolor, gouache, and graphite. Published by Kids Can Press.

Brief summary: With the collaboration of Sundar Paliwal, young readers learn of this true story that takes place in a village called Piplantri, India. They celebrated the birth of a son with music and food, while the birth of a daughter was met with silence. Sundar, one of eleven children, walks with his mother each day for hours in the heat to collect water from a well. His mother is bitten by a poisonous snake and dies. Many years later, he grows up, marries, and becomes a father of three with two daughters and a son.

While working in a marble factory, Sundar sees how the mining takes away from the soil causing it to be dry. He asks the owners to plant trees to restore what was taken, but they refuse. He quits his job. After running for the village head, sarpanch, he wins. He lectures about changing traditions to honoring both boys and girls and shares how there are other countries that treat both sexes equally. He talks about water and electricity. He tells how the factory is killing the land and urges the village members to plant trees.

Soon, villagers begin to plant trees every time a girl is born. He brings engineers to his village where his people are taught to dig trenches to store water for drinking and to water the trees. When the termites come, they grow aloe vera plants to deter the insects. The trees begin to prosper bringing in fruit and animals. They decide to plant 111 trees every time a girl is born. Mothers and daughters take care of their trees and decorate them with ribbons and threads.

Comments: WOW. This story is amazing! One person CAN make a difference.

End pages include: More About Sundar and Piplantri, Why 111 Trees?, What is Gender Inequality?, Sundar’s Plan, Aloe Vera, Extraordinary Change, How Did Sundar Become an Eco-Feminist?, and Are You an Eco-Feminist?

Photos of Sundar and the trees are also included in the back.

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