The Forest Keeper
The true story of Jadav Payeng
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.
Teacher’s guide available here.
Read our blog interview with Rina Singh.
Read or listen to an interview with Ishita Jain here.
An inspiring true story of an environmental activist whose important work began in his teens and spanned a lifetime.
The Horn Book
Vibrant illustrations place the emphasis on the beauty of nature.
⭐ Youth Services Book Review, starred review
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
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
Singh inspires with this biography of Jadav Payeng
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.
Kara Cybanski, DC Canada Education Publishing
This book reminds us that Earth Day truly is every day, and that one person can make a huge difference.
GoodReads with Ronna
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
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
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
Jadav Payeng and how he grew a forest on barren land from one seedling highlights the power of one human’s ability, in the most simple and effective way.
Kids Book Cafe