Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America

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Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. is held annually in remembrance of the first cherry tree planting on March 27, 1912. Now an international symbol of peace and friendship, the trees first came to the nation’s capital from Tokyo, Japan, at the insistence of Eliza Scidmore.

Able to live a life different from most women in the late 1800s, Scidmore was dedicated to her ideas. She had the opportunity to travel with family and friends and wrote the first guidebook about Alaska while there on a trip. Wanting to share her adventures with others, she became the first woman to write for the National Geographic Society. But throughout her travels, she never forgot about the Japanese cherry trees she had seen while visiting her brother in Tokyo. It took her more than twenty years, but with the help of the president’s wife, Mrs. Taft; a Japanese scientist; and a lot of faith, Scidmore’s dream of beautifying her hometown came true.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Andrea Zimmerman has written eight children’s books, including Trashy Town, an ALA Notable Book. She has a degree in fine arts for children and resides in San Diego, California. ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR Ju Hong Chen is a self-taught artist who grew up in Communist China. Purposely avoiding the “official line” training of China’s art schools, he worked as an art designer in a factory. He moved to the United States in the 1980s, and his first picture book, The Magic Leaf, was named a Parents’ Choice Honor Book for illustration soon after his arrival. His first book with Pelican, The Jade Stone, received a starred review from Kirkus and was named a best picture book by the San Francisco Chronicle and Book Links. Some of the book’s art was included in the textbooks Stories on Stage: Scripts for Reader’s Theater and Junior Great Books Series 2. Chen resides in Beaverton, Oregon.