Sophia Gholz’s book The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payang is an insightful story of environmental success. It is a celebration of environmental awareness and also a true story of a young boy who built a forest from the ground up in northeastern India. The book is recently selected for the 2023 North Carolina Children Fest Award and the writer Sohpia Golz did a wonderful job through this book as it will bring a lively message on Environmental Awareness for the children.

It will inspire them not to take care of Nature as a duty; rather the book will instill love in the mind of the children for saving the environment. Inspired by the documentary Forest Man, debut author Gholz pens the story of Jadav Payeng. The story begins with the erosive impact of seasonal floodwaters on his island home, which propels Jadav to take action. A group of elders gives him 20 bamboo seedlings to plant. He plants them and waters them every day, devising various methods of irrigation, and over time, his hard work pays off and a forest grows. Animals come back, but with them come threats.

However, Jadav inventively copes and continues to protect the forest. While the relative absence of the community throughout Jadav’s endeavors is somewhat startling, the story provides young children with a real-life example of the connections between man and nature. Gholz refers to Jadav throughout the book only as “the boy” or “the man,” which has a distancing effect. The depictions of Jadav himself as a child are similarly generic, whereas those of him as an adult are reasonably accurate to photographs.

Moreover, facts indicate that Jadav was 16 when he started planting the trees, but the book shows him as a much younger child. The illustrations overall are detailed and engaging, however, with beautiful imagery of the islands and the forest. Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, magic seeker and avid reader. Sophia enjoys writing fiction with humour and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and her strong family background in ecology. Bug on the Rug is another book by Sophia.

The two engage in a hysterical, rhyming battle of wits and strength until Slug asks the necessary questions and helps them find common ground. Rhyming is an important developmental reading skill. It teaches phonics (decodable text) and helps young readers infer content. This is a fun story to build those skills–and is an epic read-aloud. Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter is also a fantastic book for children When Jack Horner was a child, nothing fascinated him more than fossils. Dinosaur fossils to be exact. He hunted for them at every chance he got and dreamed of being a great paleontologist. But school was hard, reading was even harder, and he struggled to succeed like the other kids in his classes. Jack persevered, finding his own way to success until he became one of the world’s most famous paleontologists, immortalized in Hollywood movies and known as Jack Horner: Dinosaur Hunter!

Sophia besides being an award-winning children’s book author is also a music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader. As a child, she was a passionate reader and artist. When not reading or drawing, she can be found at the farm riding horses. As an adult, Sophia is still having these habits as an art fanatic and a jolly soul. She grew up in Florida, went to art school in California and met her husband in Manhattan.

Before becoming  North Carolina Children’s Book Award  Nominee 2023, she was the Kentucky Association of School  Librarians  KBA Award  (K-2) Nominee , 2022-23, Bookstagang Best of Nominee 2021-22, Green Earth Book Award  Honor 2020, Nile Book Award winner 2021-22, Keystone to Reading Book Award shortlisted 2021-22, Florida State Book Award  Gold Medal Young Children’s Literature 2019-2020, CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2020, Eureka! Nonfiction Children‘s Book Honor Award California Reading Association, CBHL Annual Literature Award Nominee 2020, Sigurd F.Olzon Nature Writing Award SONWA Winner 2019, and Florida Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Rising Kite Award 2018 and finally Florida Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Rising Kite Award 2017 Non-Fiction. Sophia also helped oversee The Henry L Gholz Seeds National Field Trip Endowment for the Ecological Society of America.

It provides opportunities for under-represented students to participate and lead in ecology through field trips that explore the broad range of ecological research. In 2017, Stanford University studied how environmental education can have positive effects on the mind of children. Today we know the importance of kids starting their environmental education at school and at home as the fate of the planet is in their hands.

It is crucial for them to learn how to use resources wisely and do their bit in the battle against Climate change from an early age. Books on people like Jadav Payeng will motivate them for ensuring a better, more sustainable and inhabitable world. The ideas of Sophia’s books are for young people to develop a firm ecological mindset and use it to overcome today’s environmental challenges with a proactive attitude and a strong commitment.

Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee is a senior academician and writer. He may be reached at profratanbhattacharjee@gmail.com