Echoing Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius in artistic style and theme, this picture book biography recalls the life and contributions of a horticulturist in the late 19th century. Kate Sessions populated San Diego's landscape with not lupines but trees. Her love for nature dated back to her childhood, where, in school, "she liked studying wind and rain, muscles and bones, plants and trees. Especially trees." McElmurry's (Mad About Plaid) naive illustrations are packed with patterns, from the dusty brown houses Sessions views as she docks in San Diego to the teardrop and polka-dot motifs in the trees. Likewise, debut author Hopkins skillfully employs a pattern in his narrative, a catchy refrain that emphasizes Sessions's can-do attitude: "Not everyone feels at home in the woods. But Kate did.... Most San Diegans didn't think trees could ever grow there. But Kate did." Vignettes that include muddy handprints, labeled plant cell parts, and trees subtitled with their Latin names complement the larger gouache spreads, and a concluding note explains more about the inspirational spirit and work of a pioneering arborist. Ages 5-10. Illustrator's agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
K-Gr 2--Katherine Olivia Sessions was a real go-getter, becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree (1881) and transforming San Diego's City Park from a dry, ugly hillside into a lush garden flourishing beneath a beautiful canopy of trees. Motivated by the love she'd felt for trees since her childhood, Sessions researched species that would grow in arid weather and hilly terrain, and she asked gardeners around the world to send her seeds. She had left teaching to establish a nursery, and by the turn of the century, trees from that nursery were growing not only in City Park but all over San Diego. The park would be the site of the Panama-California Exposition in 1909, and Sessions wanted thousands of additional trees in place to make it even more spectacular. Multitudes volunteered, and the result was so lovely that the fair stayed open for two years instead of one. Hopkins writes in a light narrative style that makes this picture-book biography a great selection for a storytime with a nature-based theme, but it also contains good information for early report writers. The author utilizes variations of a positive, upbeat refrain-"but she did"-that kids will enjoy repeating. McElmurry's artwork undergirds Hopkins's writing with stylized beauty and a sense of joy. This is a wonderful tribute to a true champion of nature.--Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, ARCopyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.