Forest Fighter: The Story of Chico Mendes

by Anita Ganeri (Author) Margaux Carpentier (Illustrator)

Forest Fighter: The Story of Chico Mendes
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A picture book that tells the important story of Chico Mendes, who led the fight to protect the Amazon rainforest and demand fair treatment for the people whose livelihoods depended on it

Chico Mendes lived in the depths of the Amazon rainforest where trees grew tall and strong and wildlife roamed freely. From the age of 8, Chico worked with his father collecting sap from trees that could be sold to make rubber. Rubber tappers were very poor and the rainforest was increasingly being destroyed by burning and logging, threatening their livelihoods. Chico knew he had to take a stand. He became a spokesperson for the community, fighting hard to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and speaking up for the rights of other rubber tappers. He won several international awards for his campaigns, but the loggers still wouldn't stop. At the age of 44, Chico was murdered by one of the loggers.

Grippingly written by award-winning author, Anita Ganeri, and vibrantly illustrated by Margaux Carpentier, Forest Fighter tells the inspiring story of Chico Mendes, who was not afraid to speak up for others and worked tirelessly to protect the rainforest. It depicts the incredible wildlife and peoples who co-exist there and shows why it is so important that all rainforests are protected.

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Kirkus Reviews

A welcome and timely introduction to a pioneering Brazilian conservationist.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-6--In this gorgeous summary of the activist's life, readers learn in short chapters that Chico Mendes was born in 1944, deep in the Amazon rainforest. As a child he witnessed how his family and others were being exploited by the landowners who ran the rubber plantations. After he learned to read and write, Chico began to use his skills to help fight for worker rights. He became a spokesperson for the rubber tappers trade union and eventually gained international attention for his activism and leadership. Chico worked tirelessly to protect the rainforest and safeguard the livelihoods of rubber tappers and other forest people until he was assassinated at the age of 44. The illustrations are mural-like and deceptively simple, with beautiful images of rainforest creatures spread throughout. The interplay of textures and shapes fill the pages with life and vibrancy, and text blocks are placed in open areas for easy readability. The powerful narrative focuses on the direct impact of deforestation on Chico's community as well as his revolutionary work to enact change through unionization and protest. The text contains a wealth of information on the Amazon rainforest and the environmental impacts of deforestation, including back matter with Amazon facts, a glossary, and index, but no bibliography. VERDICT This stellar biography of a not-often featured environmental activist is a necessary addition to all biography shelves. A first purchase.--Laken Hottle

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Ganeri inspires with this empathic biography of activist Chico Mendes (1944-1988) and his fight to save the Amazon rainforest. Opening with a scene from a triumphant protest organized by Mendes, the book otherwise takes a chronological approach, tracing his earliest years in western Brazil, tapping rubber trees alongside family, and, eventually, his assassination after persuading the Brazilian government to create the nation's first extractive reserve. Seamlessly woven throughout is essential context about the challenges and exploitation experienced by rubber tappers, the economic and environmental pressures causing ranching-related deforestation, and the pivotal impact of Mendes's work. Ganeri's fact-filled narration is balanced by evocative details that paint Mendes as a "softly spoken" leader and "a good listener," while Carpentier's tropical-hued digital illustrations incorporate chalk textures, helping readers to visualize the Amazon's destruction and the activist community Mendes created. Back matter includes rainforest facts, a glossary, and an index. Ages 7-12. (Mar.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A welcome and timely introduction to a pioneering Brazilian conservationist ... Readers learn about the semi-feudal system under which rubber tapper communities toiled, exploited by rich landowners who deliberately sought to keep workers and their families illiterate and thus disempowered ... Ganeri's biographical account uses a narrative nonfiction style and is interspersed with factual information about the Amazon forest ... [and] Carpentier's vibrant and colorful folk art-style illustrations."—Kirkus Reviews
Anita Ganeri

Anita Ganeri has written over three hundred information books for children on subjects including natural history, religion and geography. Her books include the Horrible Geography series, which won the Geographical Association Silver Award.

Marie-Ève Tremblay is an award-winning illustrator based in Montreal, Canada. She finds inspiration for her work in her trips abroad, in nature, and encounters in everyday life. She has illustrated numerous children's books as well as for magazines and television. She is the illustrator of I Wonder Why The Sun Rises and I Wonder Why Stars Twinkle.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Crocodile Books
Publication date
March 08, 2022
BISAC categories
JNF007110 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Social Activists
JNF037020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Environmental Conservation & Protection
JNF018030 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic/Latino
Library of Congress categories
Amazon River Region
Rain forest conservation
Mendes, Chico
Rubber tappers

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