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The Forest Keeper– The true story of Jadav Payeng

Illustrated by Ishita Jain
Published by NorthSouth Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

Trees don’t grow on sandbars . . . but a boy from India grew a forest.

What can one person do in the face of global environmental degradation? Indian Jadav Payeng has proven that each and every one of us can make a difference. As a boy, he began planting trees on a sandbank in the state of Assam. Nobody believed that he would succeed in doing so. But since 1979, a forest the size of Central Park has emerged, offering a home to countless animals and plants. It was not until 2007 that a photographer accidentally discovered the forest and made Payeng known to the world beyond India.

Rina Singh has sensitively retraced the story of young Jadav. In Ishita Jain's picture book debut as illustrator, readers feel immersed in the spectacular habitat whose existence borders on a miracle come true.

About The Author

Rina Singh is an award-winning children’s book author and spoken word coach. She has an MFA in creative writing and has written many critically acclaimed books for children. As a writer, she is drawn to real life stories about social justice and the environment. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and have received many starred reviews. Her book Grandmother School  won the Christie Harris Children’s Literature Prize, and 111 Trees was featured in The New York Times. A lover of poetry, photography, beautiful books, trees, and monks, she lives with her husband and Japanese koi in a blue house in Toronto.

About The Illustrator

Ishita Jain is an illustrator from Delhi, India, though she is now based in New York. She is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India, and the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Ishita loves to draw on location and enjoys documenting the people, places, and stories that surround her. Her work is inspired by day-to-day moments and the wonder that comes from being around nature. The Forest Keeper is Ishita’s first picture book.

Product Details

Raves and Reviews

"An inspiring true story of an environmental activist whose important work began in his teens and spanned a lifetime."

– The Horn Book

"This is a child friendly biography of Jadav Payeng, an ordinary man who worked unnoticed for decades to realize an extraordinary vision for his community. It tells the true story of how as a young man, Jadav Molai Payeng saw the devastation that the monsoon wreaked through the Brahmaputra River in Assam, North East India. He decided to do something about it, and his story is a story of perseverance in the face of all odds. When others were defeated by the problem, his small steps, constant care, innovation and hard, determined work led to the growth of a forest in the most unlikely places. It is also the story of environmental activism and how each person can play their part, however small they think they are. Payeng harnessed the power of the monsoons to grow the forest in dispersing the seeds, rather than destroying habitats and the animals and people that rely on them. The illustrations are evocative, detailed, informative and bright with color. They work with the story to reflect great respect for Payeng's work and give huge scope for discussion and learning. This book is a beautiful and inspirational story to share with children of any age. It will aid in discussions of environmentalism as well as problem solving and perseverance."

– Children's Literature Reviews

"Vibrant illustrations place the emphasis on the beauty of nature"

– Youth Services Book Review, starred review

"a remarkable true story of someone who has made a positive difference to the world he lives in and is a role model for those who wish to emulate him."

– David Reedy,  past President and former General Secretary of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKL, Just Imagine blog (UK)

"Singh inspires with this biography of Jadav Payeng"

– Publishers Weekly

"Showing what one person with limited resources can do to restore the environment, the story celebrates Payeng’s vision and determination. The richly colorful illustrations vary from an expressive overhead view of the forceful river to a smaller picture showing the precisely delineated leaves of various trees. An interesting picture book for conservation-minded kids."

– Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

"A great book to show children not to give up, especially in regards to helping out environment, from the water and the trees to the animals that live in them."

– Mollie Mitchell, HearthFire Books

"The Forest Keeper is a beautiful story about how one single person can make a difference for our planet. It's the perfect book to inspire more of us to act, in big ways or small ways, and truly create change."

– DC Canada Education Publishing

"This is a delightful book highlighting a remarkable young boy who made a huge difference to the land and animals in this Indian river ecosystem. Showing readers the difference each one of us can make by stepping up and doing what's needed. By planting or helping plant as many types of trees and shrubs as we can."

– Maria C. Marshall, The Picture Book Buzz

This story feels almost magical, but is all the more wondrous because it is real! It teaches children that caring for the earth and its creatures is important, and that just one of us can make a big difference.

– Alana Haley, Schuler Books

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