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Reviews & Features for THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST

Updated: May 2, 2023

NOTE: This post has been edited to include the latest reviews and news.


CLICK HERE to view the full book trailer for The Boy Who Grew A Forest.

Awards & Nominations:


*Starred review* "Gholz's respect for Jadav's accomplishments shines through in her endearing presentation of his life...The Boy Who Grew a Forest celebrates an incredible man and arouses in its audience a respect for nature that may motivate them to follow in Jadav's footsteps. Superb."

—Jen Forbus, Shelf Awareness | CLICK HERE for here for the full review.

"Payeng’s story is eloquently told and beautifully illustrated. It will inspire readers to recognize the power of individual determination..."

—Booklist | CLICK HERE for the full review.

"No reader will fail to appreciate the work of this man after reading The Boy Who Grew A Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng written by Sophia Gholz with illustrations by Kayla Harren. If one man can do this, think what all of us working together can accomplish. This just isn't a book for Arbor Day or Earth Day or a unit on plants, trees or biographies, this is a book for now. I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections."

— Margie Myers-Culver for Librarian's Quest | CLICK HERE for the full review

"This is a story about soil erosion, ecology and perseverance. Author Sophia Gholz does an incredible job of making these big topics interesting to young readers. Her use of ellipses throughout the text help learners see Payeng’s determination. Beautiful illustrations show the evolution of his work. Readers will be amazed to see the animals that thrive in Payeng’s forest."

— Maureen Schlosser for Library Lessons | CLICK HERE for the full review

"...Children will marvel at the story of Jadav Payeng’s dedication and lifelong perseverance told through Gholz’s lyrical text. As children learn about Jadav Payeng, they also discover the components of fertile soil and how a lush environment attracts the animals and other wildlife vital to a flourishing community...Harren’s exquisite sun-drenched illustrations transport readers to the Indian island...A gorgeous and beautifully told story about the power of one, The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng will excite children to make a difference in their own way..."

— Celebrate Picture Books | CLICK HERE for the full review.

"This is an amazing little book about how one quiet and humble soul can impact millions of lives—including the lives of animals and insects. Ms Gholz’s prose is sweet, simplistic and super-inspirational. The reader can hear the boy’s determination in every word; can actually feel him willing the sandbars back to life with every sapling he plants and every bucket of dirt he hauls."

— Picture Book Depot | CLICK HERE for more.

"The soft, earthy tones are simply beautiful. The story is simple, yet effective."

— Mrs. Knott's Book Nook | CLICK HERE for more

"This story of a young conservationist change-maker many years ago is wonderfully inspiring and relevant today...Written in simple lyrical language, the words flow beautifully to tie in with the lush earth-tone art.This is a beautifully written and illustrated environmental biography that will inspire your children/students."

— Joana Marple, Miss Marple's Musings | CLICK HERE for more

"The language in the book is lovely, lyrical and easy to read aloud. It is structured to show a problem, and how Payeng addressed the problem, over and over and over."

— Annette Pimentel | CLICK HERE for the full review

"This inspiring true story shows how one individual–no matter how young–can make a difference. The book teaches kids about ecology and sustainability while supporting positive life skills such as hard work, persistence, and responsibility. The rich illustrations capture Jadav’s environment in detail with emotion and heart. This book is ideal for both parents and educators to share with children."

— Maria Wen Adcock, Bicultural Mama | CLICK HERE for the full review.

"An inspirational read-aloud for units on plants, the environment, or Earth Day."

— School Library Journal | CLICK HERE for the full review.

"Young readers learn about environmentalism and see that even the mightiest results really do begin with a small seed of an idea." —Sir Read A Lot | CLICK HERE for the full review

"...the story provides young children with a real-life example of the connections between man and nature."

— Kirkus | CLICK HERE for the full review.

"This book is truly inspirational...It’s a fabulous addition for any classroom or school library. Teachers can use it for an introduction to teaching ecology or ecosystems or about the environment."

— Pamela Kramer | CLICK HERE for the full review

"A fabulous true story of what one person can accomplish through hard work and determination, The Boy Who Grew a Forest is genuinely inspiring for young and old alike."

— The Reading Eagle | CLICK HERE for the full review

"This is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished with hard work, persistence and patience. A reminder that, even a little progress each day will eventually produce huge results...This is definitely one worth the read!"

— Children's Bookshelf/Kids Book Guru | CLICK HERE for the full review

"The Boy Who Grew a Forest will acquaint many 5-8 year olds with a forest's marvels—and with their own potential to see a dream through to its fullness."

— Spirituality & Practice | CLICK HERE for the full review

"The Boy Who Grew A Forest is an incredible true story of how one small boy’s big dream literally grew into a thriving reality. It is possible for a single person to make a big difference in the world!"

Feathered Quill | CLICK HERE for the full review

"This story is both educational and inspiring, and the illustrations are beautiful. It promotes conservation and ecology without being preachy. And it includes back matter with more information about Jadav Payeng and his forest, along with instructions for planting seeds, so children can enjoy watching their own forests grow."

Rachel Funez | CLICK HERE for the full review

"...A clear example of how one person can make all the difference."

Motherly | CLICK HERE for the full review

"I would recommend The Boy who Grew a Forest to kids who like nature, who like learning about real people and who are maybe growing their own garden."

—Jewel (age 11) for Kids Book Buzz | CLICK HERE for the full review

"This is a story of perseverance..."

— Story Monsters Midwest Book Review | CLICK HERE for the full review

"Any age of elementary students would enjoy this story, and it could be used for a read aloud in a science class for middle and high school students as well."

Books and Paper Blog | CLICK HERE for the full review

"The story is environmentally themed and is sure to inspire your kid to look up to someone who also saves the world in a different way.Sophia and Kayla have unitedly worked for the mission of creating a book for young readers to read, inspire, empower, protect and care..."

My Baby and My Books | CLICK HERE for the full review

"An inspirational true story about how even the youngest among us can make a world of difference..."

— Tanya Konerman | CLICK HERE for the full review

"A great resource...believing in what you think is right and persevering in its pursuit, can really make a difference in the world."

Raising Stand Up Boys | CLICK HERE for the full review

"A lovely tale about nature, commitment, and the impact of a single person..."

Beth Anderson | CLICK HERE for the full review

"It highlights the idea that everyone of us has a part to play in keeping our planet healthy. Children interested in the natural world will find Jadav's story encouraging and fascinating..."

LibrisNotes | CLICK HERE for the full review

"An absolutely gorgeous picture book with a message of dedication and strength..."

Eisenhower Public Library | CLICK HERE for the full review

"Sophia Gholz’s words and Kayla Harren’s illustrations are perfectly woven together–words full of hope and pictures created with calming colors. I appreciate how problem & solution and cause & effect text structures are weaved into the overall chronological organization..."

Teachers Books Readers | CLICK HERE for the full review

"...a reminder that kids can make a difference. It also helps children understand the relationship between native plants and the rest of the ecosystem."

Book Riot | CLICK HERE for the full review

"Jadav’s story is an excellent read-aloud in classrooms. Jadav models that one child can make a difference. Hopefully it will inspire students to think about what they can do in their own communities to create a healthier environment for everyone."

Children's Book Heal | CLICK HERE for the full review

"Sometimes we need a reminder that even one small person can make a difference. This book is that reminder." Nerdy Book Club | CLICK HERE for the full review

Lists & Features:

Related Press:


Thanks for reading and for celebrating my debut with me!

To view the book, CLICK HERE.

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