Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
Non-Fiction Picture Book
Ages 7 to 10
HarperCollins, 2005, 0-06-001107-6
When Lady Bird was a little girl she lived with her parents in a large mansion called Brick House in the Texas countryside. Her life was shattered when her mother Minnie fell down a flight of stairs and died. When her Aunt Effie came to live in Brick House things began to get better. Lady Bird and Aunt Effie would celebrate the coming of the first spring flowers with a little ceremony and the ‘friendship’ of the flowers seem to help ease the young girl’s loneliness. More and more, as she grew into a young woman, Lady Bird took comfort in the natural beauties of the woods, the lake, and the bayous near her home.
Then Lady Bird left Brick House, went to college, met a young man whom she grew to love and married. Lady Bird’s husband, Lyndon Johnson, was chosen to be a Congressman and he and Lady Bird had to move to Washington, D.C. It was here that Lady Bird first saw real ugliness. There were parks with little natural beauty, trash sitting on the sides of the roads, the river was filthy, and Lady Bird worried about the city’s children. How could they grow up to be healthy and happy people if they had no natural places to play in when they were young?
When Lyndon became the president after the sudden death of President John F. Kennedy, Lady Bird urged her husband to put forward the Highway Beautification Act. This was just the beginning of a lifetime of work to make America a more beautiful and flower-filled nation.
Highly detailed folkloric style paintings in brilliant colors beautifully accompany the text of this excellent picture book biography. Children will learn that they have a lot to thank Lady Bird Johnson for. Perhaps they will wonder what their world would be like if there were no wildflowers and will be encouraged to create a wildflower garden of their own.
At the back of the book the author includes a section called “Miss Lady Bird’s Legacy” which is about the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center whose goal is “to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants.”
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