Bluebonnets and lady's slippers, larkspurs and blazing stars, black-eyed Susans and Granny's nightcaps.
From a lonely childhood in the Piney Woods of East Texas to an exciting life in the White House, Lady Bird Johnson loved these wildflowers with all her heart. They were her companions in her youth, greeting her everywhere as she explored wild forests, bayous, and hills. Later, as First Lady, she sought to bring the beauty of wildflowers to America's cities and highways. She wanted to make sure every child could enjoy the splendor of wildflowers.
In this warm, engaging look at the life of a great First Lady, Kathi Appelt tells the story behind Lady Bird Johnson's environmental vision. Joy Fisher Hein's colorful wildflowers burst from every page, inviting us to share in Lady Bird's love for natural beauty.
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Kathi Appelt has written several books for children, including Bayou Lullaby, Hushabye, Baby Blue, and Toddler Two-Step. She lives in Texas, where she was raised, and never tires of riding the range.
In Her Own Words...
"Igrew up in Houston, Texas, the oldest of three sisters. In our house on Mayo Avenue, we had a garage with unfinished Sheetrock on the walls. We each had our own section. As soon as we could hold a crayon, we were allowed to express ourselves in any color or form that we wished.
"If you stood back and looked at the wall, it was like a record of my growing up. Down at the bottom was just a lot of scribbling, but as I grew, the drawing took on new and clearer forms. You could tell the drawings that were done when I was happy, as well as the ones that I drew when I was angry. The garage wall was a perfect place for expression. Once I started actually writing, on paper, I no longer needed the wall. But I still think of it as the place where my earliest writing took place. It was like my first journal, a record of my feelings and experiences.
"I still keep a journal. Like the garage wall, it's a place for catching all my thoughts, and sometimes my dreams. It's often the first place that the idea for a new story or poem occurs. Because I don't have any particular rules about writing in my journal, sometimes I'm surprised by what shows up! I also get ideas when I walk. I enjoy taking long leisurely walks. They help me clear my thoughts, but they also give me an opportunity to take a good look at the world around me.
"I like to draw directly from my own life when I write, because that's what I know best and feel most strongly about. Sometimes I write about feelings of joy, as in my book The Thunderherd, which is about horses. I've loved horses since I was very young, and The Thunderherd was an opportunity to express that love. As much as I loved horses, however, I was afraid of bats. Because writing helps me overcome my fears, I decided to write a book about bats; this became Bat Jamboree. Writing that book helped me see bats differently and even to laugh about my fears. Now I appreciate and love bats almost as much as horses.
"I used to think that a real writer had to have lots of exciting, maybe even dangerous, adventures in order to have something meaningful to write about. Now I know that the best writing is about the people, places, pets, and objects that surround us and that we meet every day. I've discovered that writing about them is the absolute best way to really know them and in the process come to know ourselves and our own world a little better. I now know that writing is really a way of seeing. I'd like to encourage you to get out your old journal or start a new one and see what shows up.
"Kathi Appelt lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband, Ken, a schoolteacher, and their two sons, Jacob and Cooper. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she teaches creative writing to both children and adults. She's a frequent visitor in schools and at writing workshops. She is also the regional adviser for the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators."From Booklist:
Gr. 1-3. Causes celebres are as commonplace among First Ladies as red suits and pearls, but few are as accessible to children as the wildflower-planting campaigns of Lady Bird Johnson. Appelt traces Johnson's botanical passions to her rural, East Texas childhood, finding parallels between the solace her subject drew from nature after her mother's death and her launch of the Highway Beautification Act to soothe a nation grieving for JFK. Psychological correlations of this sort appear throughout, and Appelt doesn't provide specific evidence to back them up; however, source citations for quotations and bibliographic resources are listed. Newcomer Hein's figures are awkwardly handled, but children will pore enthusiastically over her riotous, millefleur landscapes, each bloom so meticulously rendered that bluebells can be distinguished from bluebonnets by using the identification key provided. This is ideally suited for children lucky enough to attend schools where gardens are part of the curriculum; elsewhere, a stroll through Hein's stunning gouache meadowlands may be the next best thing. An endnote describes the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center that Johnson founded in 1982. Jennifer Mattson
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2005. Library Binding. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060011084