Stand as Tall as the Trees
Patricia Gualinga, author
Patricia Gualinga is a human rights and Indigenous rights defender of the Pueblo Kichwa de Sarayaku, an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Gualinga currently lives in Puyo, Ecuador.
Read more about Patricia
Laura Resau, author
Laura Resau is the award-winning author of nine highly acclaimed young adult and children’s books, including The Lightning Queen, Tree of Dreams, What the Moon Saw, Red Glass, and Star in the Forest. Laura draws inspiration from her time abroad as an anthropologist and ESL teacher. Resau lives with her family in Colorado and donates a portion of her royalties to Indigenous rights organizations in Latin America.
Read more about Laura.
Vanessa Jaramillo, illustrator
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.
Read more about Vanessa.
- A 2023 Junior Library Guild selection
- A New York Public Library Best Book of 2023
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
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)
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.
Paty, who co-authored this inspirational book, lived in a small Kichwa village deep in the rainforest of Ecuador. Mystical beings named Amazanga rule the forest and members of her family admonished her to not mistreat the forest or the Amazanga would punish her. With a desire to protect the forest, Patty left the village for more education in a large city. If she understood the world outside the forest, perhaps, she would have more power within it. With an education, Paty became a voice for her community and the forest, but soon after, the Ecuadorian government sold the rights to the forest to an oil company. As the company developed the land, the animals and plants died. “And the Amazanga wail!” Returning to her village, Paty mobilized her community and, later, other Indigenous people. It took years, but the oil company was forced to leave. A later hearing before the Court of Human Rights resulted in an order that the Ecuadorian government apologize, restore the forest, and ask permission in the future regarding development. Gentle watercolor illustrations capture the beauty of the Amazon forest and the quiet strength of the Indigenous people who defend not only the Amazon, but the whole Earth. Extensive back matter includes information about the Kichwas of the Amazon rainforest and global Indigenous activism, a glossary, and selected sources. Jacket notes state the book is also available in Spanish.
Listen to an interview with co-author Patricia Gualinga on Forbes podcast. This is in Spanish.
Page count: 40
77/8 x 11