Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Cherry Trees

With everything that is going on over in Japan right now, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a book that highlights a connection that we have with Japan, a peaceful connection.

Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America
by Andrea Zimmerman
illustrated by Ju Hong Chen
Pelican Publishing Company, 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-58980-954-3
Grades K-5
Reviewed from personal copy.

Eliza Scidmore loved to travel.  From the time she was little and her mother took her to Europe, she dreamed of adventure and excitement in other lands.  Woman had few options at this time (mid to late 1800s), but Eliza refused to let that stop her.  She went to college and developed her writing skills.  She wrote numerous newspaper articles and a couple of books.  She traveled to Alaska, Japan, and Europe.  She visited India, China, Russia, and Indonesia.  But she especially fell in love with Japan, its people, its food, and its cherry trees.  When she returned home after her first visit to Japan, she looked at the muddy riverbanks of Washington D.C. and got a wonderful idea.  Wouldn't some of those Japanese cherry trees with their beautiful blossoms look great there.  Eliza took her idea to the man in charge of the Washington parks, he declined.  Over a span of twenty years, Eliza kept going back, every time someone new was placed in charge of the parks, but they all said no.  Finally, she took her idea to Mrs. Taft, the wife of then President Howard Taft.  Mrs. Taft loved the idea.  The Japanese were more than happy to share their trees.  Unfortunately, the first batch of trees were diseased and had to be destroyed.  But the second batch was perfectly healthy and the beautiful cherry blossoms have been enjoyed by many since then.

This is a great story of persistence in the face of many difficulties.  Eliza had a good idea and she wasn't going to give it up.  Zimmerman let's us see the difference that one person can make.  The pictures of the blossoms are gorgeous and Chen does a fine job of showing Eliza through the years of changing fashions.  He also offers us rather faded pictures of the places Eliza travels to, almost as if to say that those places couldn't be fully appreciated without being there, which is undoubtedly true. The pages showing the blooming cherry trees are definitely the highlight of the book with the bright colors and serene landscapes. The writing is clean and crisp and moves the story along at a brisk pace, which Eliza would surely appreciate. A nice book for reminding all of us just how connected we really are.


  1. I loved how persistent and independent Eliza was! I'm glad you enjoyed the book. To learn more about Eliza's life, visit:

    Thanks Heidi,
    Andrea Z.


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