The Tree Lady

The Tree Lady – The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry



Kate Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California in the 1860’s.  Kate loved exploring the woods and didn’t mind getting dirty while playing.  In the 1860’s girls were not encouraged to study science.  But, Kate wanted to learn.



“Kate felt the trees were her friends.  She loved the way they reached toward the sky and how their branches stretched wide to catch the light.”

In 1881, Kate graduated from the University of California – the first woman to earn a degree in science from that university.  She took a teaching job in San Diego after graduation and found that town to be a desert-like place with very few trees.

After two years, Kate left teaching and worked to find trees that would grow in the dry soil.  She requested seeds from gardeners all over the world, and went to Mexico to hunt for trees that might thrive in San Diego.

Before long, Kate had a tree nursery – and her trees were planted all over town.  In 1909, the city officials announced the Panama-California Exposition would come to San Diego in 1915.  In preparation for this, they wanted more trees for the city park, Balboa Park.  Kate felt Balboa Park needed thousands more trees.  She invited friends to help and held tree-planting parties.

When the Exposition opened in 1915, Balboa Park had millions of trees and plants.  Visitors marveled at the wonderful plants and gardens and strolled in the cool shade.  Kate was given many awards over her lifetime, and continued working with and planting trees until her death in 1940.

“Back then, few could have imagined that San Diego would become the lush, leafy city it is today.  But all along, year after year, Katherine Olivia Sessions did.”

This is wonderful picture book about a woman who changed a desert town into a city filled with plants and trees – with the act of planting trees.  She was called “The Mother of Balboa Park.”  Kate Sessions used her courage, her love of trees, and her scientific knowledge to do this.  The author included a page with more detailed information about Kate Sessions.  A good book to share!


  1. Ruth on March 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Thank you for sharing with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. The Tree Lady looks like a great book and thank you for sharing.

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  2. Cheryl on March 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Bravo for a book that encourages girls to be interested in Science.

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Hooray for girls and science! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Alicia Owen on March 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    This sounds like a great book to help promote a love of nature in youngsters!…and just an interesting story in general. 🙂

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      My young nature lovers enjoyed it – a fun story to share. Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Reshama on March 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    We loved this book.. it was a great read, the art is awesome and so is Kate’s story. I am definitely getting the book back for a re-read. Thanks for sharing this review on Kidlit Bloghop this week.
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      We really enjoyed this book, too – great artwork and story! Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  5. Jess@Fairday's Blog on March 21, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    This book sounds fantastic. I love the fact that this book promotes nature and women being invested in science. Awesome! I can’t wait to check this out. 🙂

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Hooray for girls looking under rocks, planting seeds, and loving science. I hope you enjoy reading the story! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Stacie Theis on March 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Loved reading your review of The Tree Lady. I live in San Diego, but didn’t grow up here so learning about the history is always fun. I’ve taken my kids to Balboa Park and we have seen first hand the beauty Kate Session created there so many years ago. Thanks for sharing!

    • bookwormbear on March 30, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      How fun that you’ve actually been to Balboa Park! I’d like to see the place Kate Sessions created. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Douglas Florian on August 31, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Tree Lady looks to be quite lovely!

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