Feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head Laguna BelAir School on PaperTigers: Books+Water Book Sets

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Continuing our focus on WaterBridge Outreach participants Laguna BelAir School, today we feature the inspiring feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head.

At the heart of every PaperTigers book is a message for all of humanity. The message each book conveys is relevant, timeless, and transcends the boundaries set by current economic, political, or cultural constructs that continue to impinge on the way peoples of the world interact today.

We at Laguna BelAir School have realized the affinity between our core values and those of the PaperTigers (PT) organization, as conveyed in the PT books that the organization has sent us. By sharing the PT books with our students, we are also imparting our core values in a way that is not awkward and forced. Through the books, they may realize that the things we say we value are not simply words to be memorized but are ideals that other people cherish and live out. Through their constant exposure to these wonderful books, and their continuous experiences in the school’s different advocacies, they may truly become what we wish them to be – stewards for a better world.

Thank you, Paper Tigers, for involving us in your outreach program. We share in Wangari Maathai’s (Planting the Trees of Kenya) advocacy of caring for the environment by planting trees and in her belief in women and in communities working together to bring about much-needed reforms. We are inspired by Kojo’s (One Hen) example of thrift and of making a difference one small step at a time. The way we view people with cultures or beliefs other than ours is challenged by the way friendship is forged between Abaani and Haki (First Come the Zebra), thereby promoting peaceful coexistence. And we are truly inspired by the boy (A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope) who despite all adversity finds hope for a better future in a war-ravaged land.

Thank you, Wangari Maathai

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Today we pay tribute to Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai, scientist, activist and environmentalist, who died yesterday.

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 following her return to her native Kenya, after pursuing university studies in the US: she was concerned not only about the detrimental changes in the landscape caused by deforestation, but also about how these were affecting women’s lives especially. Through the Green Belt Movement, more than 47 million trees have been planted, and with them, many families have been able to take active control of their own food production and become involved in promoting sustainable development.

Three inspirational children’s books that relate this aspect of Wangari Maathai’s life are Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008) and Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Books, 2008) and Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler (Lee & Low Books, 2010). Wangari’s story helps children to recognise that small actions can lead to big actions, and that through putting many people’s small actions together, they can be the instrument for momentous change.

You can read more about Wangari Maathai’s incredible life on the Green Belt Movement’s website, including her advocacy for freedom and peace; and her own words about some of the issues close to her heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with Wangari’s family: may the knowledge that Wangari’s name and influence will live on be of consolation to them in their time of grief. An online condolence book is available on Wangari’s Facebook page.

New Spirit of PaperTigers Feedback: LAGUNA BEL AIR SCHOOL ~ City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines

Sunday, July 10th, 2011


Head on over to the Spirit of PaperTigers site to see feedback from the Laguna Bel Air School, City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines. Students in Grades 3 though 6 provided their comments on the books in the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set. Here is a sampling of what they wrote:

Planting the Trees of Kenya

KY, Grade 4: I recommend this book because it shows concern for our mother earth and nature. It shows us how to protect and plant trees, so that we can help the environment.

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing

MZM, Grade 5: My favorite part is when Little Leap Forward’s father told him that ‘With your music and your imagination, you can travel anywhere; you will always be free’ because it’s very inspiring and also because I’m a musician, too.

CM, Grade 5: My favorite illustration is when Little Little and Little Leap Forward are lying down on the riverbank. It shows that both of them are free and are best friends. When I do what both of them are doing, I will focus on the sky and realize that I still have to do many things before I reach heaven.

AJA, Grade 6: I really like Little Leap Forward because he is kind to his family, friends, pet bird (Little Cloud), and most especially to Blue. He did everything just to let Little Cloud sing. He even let go of her just to be happy and to sing. I will always remember these words from Little Leap Forward: “Wouldn’t you rather be free, just for a day, than spend a lifetime in a cage?”.

VAdR, Grade 6: My favorite chapter is ‘Autumn Song’ because it shows that Little Leap Forward finally gets his wish: to play the flute along with Little Cloud. He played the bamboo flute by just letting the music out from his heart, which for me is the most beautiful music of all.

One Hen

KMS, Grade 3: I like Kojo because he wanted to save money for their needs.

EA, Grade 3: I like the illustrations because they’re all very, very creative.


Kidlit4Japan: PaperTigers Auction – #121: A Signed Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 Book Set

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Now live over on the Kidlit4Japan site:

Auction #121: A Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 Book Set of Seven Picture books, some signed. From

Description: You are bidding for a set of seven high-quality picture books (all hardcover) which were selected as the Spirit of PaperTigers book set for 2010 to be sent to different schools and libraries around the world.

The Book Set comprises the following titles with some, as indicated, containing book plates signed by the author/illustrator:

First Come the Zebra – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch
Lee & Low, 2009. Ages 4-8

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing – SIGNED BY THE AUTHORS
Written by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann
Barefoot Books, 2008. Ages 9-12

My Little Round House – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Bolormaa Baasansuren
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2009. Ages 4-8

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference – SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR
Written by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press, 2008. Ages 7+

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola
Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. Ages 5-8

The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos – SIGNED BY THE ILLUSTRATOR
Written by Lucia Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre
Children’s Book Press, 2008. Ages 4-8

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. Ages 9-12

Estimated Value: $150

Bio: is a colorful website devoted to multicultural books from around the world for children and young adults, with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim and South Asia. We seek to promote the celebration and tolerance of diversity, and to nurture literacy and a love of reading. As well as highlighting the world of multicultural children’s and ya literature on our website and blog, we work to reinforce our goal of promoting cross-cultural understanding via our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach, under the banner Books and Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body.

PaperTigers’ website:

Guest Post: Jeannine Cuevas-Stronach on the Spirit of PaperTigers Bookset Choice, Planting the Trees of Kenya

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

plantingthetreesofkenyaThe four of us who currently write regularly on the PaperTigers blog are delighted to be joined by one of our colleagues, Jeannine, who was a fellow-panelist in choosing the books for the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set. Here, she focuses on one of those books, Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola:

I think everyone on the panel agreed that it would have been great to be able to choose 25 or more books for the first Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set, but our resources are not infinite, so each book we chose would have to have to go a long way toward expressing the true “Spirit of PaperTigers.” To me, and to others on the panel too, Planting the Trees of Kenya was an ideal book for the set, because it expresses so many important ideas and values while also being enjoyable to read and beautiful to look at.

As the subtitle says, this book is based on the inspiring story of one Kenyan woman, Wangari Maathai. As explained in the book’s afterward, Maathai was the first woman from Africa to be awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. She founded Kenya’s “Green Belt Movement” in the 1970s, which — in her own words — was “not simply about planting trees. It was about inspiring people to take charge of their environment, the system that governed them, their lives and their future.”

In a deceptively simple way, this book and its truly lovely illustrations show how Maathai learned to appreciate nature as a child and later grew up to be a powerful force in the renewal of her country’s environment and the well-being of its people. Maathai’s true story will encourage young readers:

to care about the environment and see the connection between the health of the natural world and people’s health

to take personal responsibility for caring for the Earth

to do the right thing even when it is difficult or takes a long time

to see that the poor, children, girls, and women — not only powerful men or governments — can have a strong influence on their society

to value education. Maathai’s education empowered her to take action.

I want to emphasize that the true story of Wangari Maathai makes a powerful statement on its own, but it is the way that Claire Nivola tells and illustrates Maathai’s story that makes it accessible and meaningful for young readers. Here is an example of her evocative writing:

“In the stream near her homestead where she went to collect water for her mother, she played with glistening frogs’ eggs, trying to gather them like beads into necklaces, though they slipped through her fingers back into the clear water.”

Nivola’s illustrations are as detailed as photographs. I can almost imagine her spending hours and hours painting every leaf on a tree, every blade of grass on a meadow, the intricate patterns on the African women’s skirts and headscarves. Groups of people fill many scenes so that the overall impression is “a group planting trees,” or “a group listening to Maathai speak,” but notice the individuals in the crowds. A girl peers shyly around her mother; an older girl helps her little brother to climb high enough to pick fruit from a tree; an excited dog peers eagerly into a big hole dug for a well; a baby reaches out to touch her sister’s face.

If you are paying attention, you will see more charming details every time you read this book with a child. And then may you be inspired to go outside and plant a tree with her!!

Thank you for sharing this with us, Jeannine!

Bedtime Reading: Children's Stories To Inspire You In Your Sleep

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Pam Allyn’s recent article in the Huffington Post, Bedtime Reading: Children’s Stories to Inspire You In Your Sleep, lists her top recommendations for bedtime reading for all ages for the year 2010. Why did she make this list?

When the sun goes down, fears come up. The blessing of a transcendent story for any age is that it helps us to escape, to relate, to connect and to understand the perils and magic of our mortal universe. […]

In the midst of the swirling clouds of conversations on recession, terrorism threats and environmental anxieties, our great authors, honoring the mysterious yet profound world of childhood, steer us toward peace and community, and the promise of hope in the morning.

Pam’s list is comprised of 8 books and includes Planting the Trees of Kenya and One Hen: two books which we chose for our Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set! Here is what Pam has to say about these two books and why they made her list:

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maatthai by Claire Nivola. Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Prize in 2004 for her efforts to repair the environmental damage done to Kenya. She taught women and children to plant seeds and grow trees. Nivola shows the children restoring the health of a country. How this book will inspire: it’s not just Wangari who rallies us; it’s the tenderness of the children and their mothers, taking political action by planting gardens.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.  Kojo lives in a small Ashanti village. His life is changed when he is given a micro-loan by his village and he is able to buy a hen. His success after this impacts everyone in his community and beyond. Why we all should read this: When we try to figure out what to do to help in this year 2010, this book gives us a good model for how teaching a man to fish is more important than the fish itself.

Be sure to click here and read about the other books on Pam’s list.

Spirit of PaperTigers: If you could send your book anywhere in the world… (Part 1)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

SPT SealWhen we interviewed the authors and illustrators of the books chosen for the Spirit of PaperTigers‘ 2010 Book Set, there was one question we asked everybody: “If you were to pick a place anywhere in the world to send your book, where would it be and why?”

We thought it would be great to bring all the different answers together here on the blog, so here is the first of two parts in which we highlight each person’s response…

Bolormaa Baasansuren, author and illustrator of My Little Round House, adapted by Helen Mixter (Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2009):

I would like to send it to every country in the world! But right now, I would like to send it to Haiti, most of all. Now, after the earthquake, its people, especially the children, are going through very hard times. I like to imagine the children of Haiti forgetting their current hardships even just for a moment, by immersing themselves in a picture book.

Claire A. Nivola, author and illustrator of Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008):

I would think that the most important places to send the books would be to areas most affected by deforestation. Southeast Asia and South America are areas of enormous concern. But the list of countries is long: the countries of Central America, Brazil, Madagascar, Haiti, Mexico, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire. Too many! And unless there are translations provided, the books are useless to children who don’t read English. So, I would choose any of the above countries where English is spoken or taught in the schools. However, any country where children are in need would have my blessings. The Wangari Maathai story is not just about deforestation, it is about any misuse of the environment, and the environment is in need of help all around this globe!

Lynne Barasch, author and illustrator of First Come the Zebra (Lee & Low, 2009):

I would send First Come the Zebra to Kenya, where the story takes place. Of course conflict exists in many parts of the world. I would say Israel and neighboring Arab countries could benefit from this story too.

Grace Lin, author and illustrator of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown & Co.,2009):

I’d like to send the book to myself when I was 10 years old. Partly because it is the kind of book that I wanted and needed and didn’t have when I was a child, and partly to tell my younger self, “Have faith, you will someday accomplish your dream.”

Hmm, all over the world is a bit tricky – but we are doing our best to find homes in some of the specific places mentioned. And what about you? If you could choose anywhere in the world to send special books like these, where would it be?

Announcing the Spirit of PaperTigers Project

Monday, February 1st, 2010


Today we are thrilled to be announcing our Spirit of PaperTigers Project, an initiative of Pacific Rim Voices, whose aim is to promote literacy while raising awareness of our common humanity. The idea is to donate 100 book sets of 7 carefully selected multicultural books to libraries and schools in areas of need across the globe.

The following titles have been selected for inclusion in the 2010 Book Set:

paw_smPlanting The Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, by Claire A. Nivola. Frances Foster Books, 2008.

paw_smFirst Come the Zebra, by Lynne Barash. Lee & Low, 2009.

paw_smLittle Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing, by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann. Barefoot Books, 2008.

paw_smThe Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos, by Lucia Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Children’s Book Press, 2008.

paw_smMy Little Round House, by Bolormaa Baasansuren, English adaptation by Helen Mixter. Groundwood Books, 2009.

paw_smOne Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. Kids Can Press, 2008.

paw_smWhere The Mountain Meets The Moon, by Grace Lin. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

Our website currently highlights all the authors and illustrators whose books have been selected, as well as other features related to the project. Please note that we will be further exploring the particular reasons for selecting each title, here, on the blog, during the month of February.

One important aspect of the Spirit of PaperTigers project is that we will be receiving feedback from the book set recipients. In the course of the coming months, as feedback comes in, we will be posting it to the blog and the site, so everyone can find out about where the books are going and who they are reaching.

To learn more about the project and enjoy the new features, visit the website. And please help us spread the word on this exciting new venture!…

Jane Addams Children's Book Award 56th Annual Award Ceremony

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The Jane Addams Peace Association and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom are pleased to announce that the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 56th Annual Award Ceremony will be held on Friday, October 16th at 2:30 PM at the 777 United Nations Plaza (2nd Floor) in New York City, NY. This event is free and open to all. Reservations are not needed.

Join us for a memorable afternoon of award presentation and responses by authors and illustrators. Come meet and talk with the honored guests, including Award winner Margarita Engle and honorees Anne Laurel Carter, Lucia Gonzalez, Lulu Delacre, Scott Reynolds Nelson, and Marc Aronson. Enjoy a reception and an opportunity for book signing after formal presentation of the awards. All the award books will be available for purchase.

The Award Winners:

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola is the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle is the winner in the Books for Older Children Category.

The Honor Books:

Books for Younger Children:

The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos written by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad written and illustrated by James Rumford

Books for Older Children:

The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter

Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson with Marc Aronson

For additional information about the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and a complete list of books honored since 1953, click here.

2009 Jane Addams Children's Book Awards announced

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Press Release

Winners of the 2009 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards were announced today by the Jane Addams Peace Association. Books commended by the Award address themes or topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community, and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literary and artistic excellence.

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola, Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, is the winner in the “Books for Younger Children” category.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, is the winner in the “Books for Older Children” category.

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai profiles the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004) (more…)