Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest (Hardcover)
An inspiring true story about how an activist in the Amazon worked with other Indigenous communities to protect and preserve their sacred lands and forests.
Patricia (Paty) Gualinga grew up in her Kichwa village in the Amazon of Ecuador where mystical beings called Amazanga help protect the forest. Paty traveled away from home for school until she was called back—companies that said the government sold them property were destroying her people’s lands to look for oil. The Kichwa community worked with other Indigenous groups to bring the Ecuadorian government to the Court of Human Rights.
Lyrically told and beautifully illustrated, this moving story will remind readers of the importance of nature conservation, perseverance, and standing up for your community.
“A gorgeously told true story, full of lyricism, wonder, beautiful artwork, and most importantly, HOPE. Stand as Tall as the Trees makes my heart swell every time I read it. We need more stories like this—in life and in our libraries.”
—Todd Mitchell, Green Earth Book Award Honor Winner and Author of The Namer of Spirits
“This moving and inspirational story of Patricia Gualinga's fight for her community's Amazon rainforest is an urgent call to action to protect the wilderness, which, in the poignant words of the authors, keeps us all alive. Stand as Tall as the Trees is an ode to the power of ordinary people to affect change. Lovingly written and illustrated, it is a book that will inspire a new generation of activists.”
—Lea Aschkenas, bilingual librarian and author of Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle
“This picture book will capture your heart and imagination alike.”
– Alda P. Dobbs, Winner of the Pura Belpré Honor Award and Author of The Other Side of the River
“This gorgeous book will surely delight youngsters, but it will be on my syllabus for graduate students studying Nature Writing as well. After all, books for younger readers influence our cultural conversation about the environment. Who doesn’t remember their favorite nature-based picture book? I think we all do, because they were seared into our brains at a powerful moment. This book deserves to be one of those memorable classics, worth studying for its important story, delightful art, inclusion, and environmental ethic.”
—Laura Pritchett, PhD, Director of the MFA in Nature Writing at Western Colorado University and PEN USA Award Winning Author
"A true story full of wisdom and hope, this book's stunning beauty ranges from the gorgeous illustrations to the powerful messages of bravery, strength, and perseverance. Stand as Tall as the Trees is a poetic and soulful gem that offers inspiration for readers of all ages."
— Bailey Cates, NYT bestselling author
About the Author
Vanessa Jaramillo studied graphic design, but her passion for drawing and painting led her to a path that contained what she was looking for: illustration. She focuses on intercultural bilingual education projects and has been a consultant for UNICEF and the Ministry of Education. www.linktr.ee/vanejaramillo
Co-author Gualinga describes how she and other members of the Kichwa community fought back after the Ecuadorian government sold part of the Amazon to an oil company.
As a young girl, Gualinga—referred to as Paty here—lived in Sarayaku within the rainforest of Ecuador. Her mother told her that her life and those of her people were deeply connected to the forest surrounding them. As an adult she studied in the nearby city but returned to fight for her home after men who wanted to drill and mine for oil in the forest began to use dynamite to destroy it. Together, Paty and her community took a stand against the intruders. Readers learn how Paty and several others traveled to Costa Rica to make their case before the Court of Human Rights. The story ends on an uplifting note, with the court ruling in their favor. Told in melodic, flowing verse, this inspiring tale offers a poignant example of how Indigenous peoples are exploited and speaks to the strength it took for Paty and her community to stand up for their land and beliefs. The watercolor illustrations are powerful, and many stand out on stark white or plainly colored backgrounds. The copious backmatter speaks to the authors’ meticulous research.
A moving account of those who spoke truth to power and triumphed. (about the Kichwa people, examples of Indigenous movements around the world, glossary, selected sources)
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
In this heartfelt and personal picture book, Gualinga, with Resau, relates via animated free verse how her Kichwa village in the Amazon battled corporate destruction. “Deep in the rain forest of Ecuador” is Sarayaku, “alive with trees towering, vines winding, and frogs singing.” Young Paty, daughter of “a shaman with one foot in this world and one in the spirit world,” is told to be brave and show respect, “and the forest will give you strength.” After she leaves for a city and earns a diploma, she receives word from Sarayaku: men with “helicopters and guns, shouts and uniforms” have come to drill for oil, claiming that the Ecuadorian government sold them the land. Aligning the book’s protagonist with natural imagery, Jaramillo’s watercolors depict the verdant Amazon, the urgency of the demonstrations, and the battle to save the forest. Extensive back matter concludes this picture book with a significant message: “We have the right to protect our home.” Ages 6–9.