Grand Prize Winner
Best Fiction Book of 2022
Best Children's Picture Book of 2022
"The ForestGirls, with the World Always, by Sissel Waage is an incredible picture book that features diversity, ecology, and girls from around the world. It's an enlightening story about saving our environment. The book is about respecting, climbing, and planting trees to make a difference in the world. It's a joyous book with contemporary and urgent climate themes."
"Waage’s tender, gorgeously illustrated picture debut for children celebrates our vital and powerful relationship with trees.
Told through the eyes of young girls from around the world, the story starts with the nature-loving youngsters sitting under trees and gazing up at their branches – but then, 'The girls grew. The trees grew. Upward and outward.' They progress to climbing the trees, then to planting them, and finally to helping care for and heal forests around the world. Though they live far apart, the girls are united in their actions, a theme that Waage illuminates with a poetic refrain: 'On their own, together. With the world, always.'
The highlight of this enchanting book is Ana-Maria Cosma’s dreamy watercolor illustrations. The colorful, soft-edged pictures show girls from a variety of countries and the trees they love: a lombi tree in the Republic of Congo, a banyan tree in India, an acacia tree in Australia, and a redwood in the United States. The smiling, culturally diverse characters are depicted lounging on branches, planting seedlings, and running and playing together, and the whimsical pictures seem to exist in the fuzzy space just between imagination and reality. Younger readers will be amused by the playful details – like the frolicsome squirrel making an appearance on several pages.
Waage, an environmental scientist, demonstrates her love for the natural world in spare, impactful prose.
This quick, delightful read will pique the same curiosity in kids and adults, offering many opportunities to ask questions and do further research on different trees and the countries where they thrive. With its enduring message and exquisite illustrations, this story will help young readers understand the many ways trees protect us – and why we need to help protect them."
"Takeaway: Waage’s tender, gorgeous picture book celebrates our vital relationship with trees through the eyes of young girls from around the world."
"Great for fans of: Lola M. Schaefer’s Because of an Acorn,
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
"On their own, together./ With the world, always.” Beautiful words to ponder. Imagine what we could do if we all worked together. The ForestGirls, with the World Always relates how girls around the world admire the trees native to their country. Sissel Waage reminds us that as the girls grow, so do the trees and so does the bond between them. And the girls care for these trees; they plant more trees and care for them, too. In return, the trees of the world provide a safe and healthy environment in which the girls can continue to grow. Where there are trees, there is also hope for a better world.
Sissel Waage’s picture book story, The ForestGirls, with the World Always, is an empowering story for young girls. Written with compassion for both girls and the wonderful planet on which we live, the author has provided an engaging and informative look at the world of trees. She expertly presents girls from many countries around the world and features trees native to that area, like the lombi tree in the Republic of Congo and the baobab tree of Madagascar (one of my favorite trees because it’s so legendary in proportions). The author is teaching young readers about trees around the world as well as something about the culture.... The language is simple and some phrases are repeated for added effect.
The illustrations are superb and invite the young reader into the mission to save our planet by saving our trees. At the end of the book is a world map showing some of the areas featured in the book. This is a valuable educational tool as well as an enjoyable read."
"Fiction, we are told, is 'literature in the form of prose that describes imaginary events and people.' Sometimes the prose on the page is aided by wondrous illustrations, the combination giving the reader an experience that expands our thinking, opens our hearts, and teaches about a world that we would love to inhabit. Sometimes it isn't that these are 'imaginary events and people,' but what we can imagine and therefore see in the world around us.
The ForestGirls, with the World Always, by Sissel Waage, illustrated by Ana-Maria Cosma (Lulu Press), invites us to see that as girls and trees grow 'upward and outward,' so do we all to the betterment of our world."
"Inspired by the strength and science of trees, Waage (co-editor of, Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark A Movement) and illustrator Ivana Josipovic have created a thoughtful and beautifully guided journal for younger teen girls.
Waage's text is knowledgeable and approachable, presenting trees as a metaphor for heightening self-understanding and sparking ideas for future goals. Combined with Josipovic’s minimalist yet richly inviting illustrations, this journal delivers a perfect canvas of stimulating prompts while leaving room for readers to find their own voice and cultivate their inner artist.
Though nature journals are not a new concept, Waage’s readers are in expert hands here. Tree facts precede each journaling prompt — such as details about mycorrhizae, a fungal root network that grows around trees and is used to illustrate the importance of support networks — and showcase Waage’s insight as an environmental scientist and skill as a writer.
Josipovic’s choice to use a limited color palette of black, white, and green allows the text more impact and leaves room for younger readers to add in their own handiwork – and thought-provoking moments like examining the heartwood of a tree and likening it to personal convictions will spark intense reflection for readers.
This journal is permeated by a reverence for nature and mutual respect for readers. Dr. Waage writes, 'Perhaps a sense of wonder is\ the same\ that every living being feels,' and the text is not only visually gorgeous, but also rife with emotional resonance. Readers will find dreamy inspiration on every page, and the journal concludes with the hope of 'A vibrant future\ where all living beings,\ everywhere,\ can breathe, and\ thrive.'
Ultimately a visionary journal for introspective, nature-loving teen girls, or readers looking to incorporate more of nature’s wisdom into their own lives, The ForestGirls: A Journal, A Journey distinguishes itself as a standout."
"Takeaway: A journal rich with environmental inspiration and scientific facts that will appeal to nature lovers and young writers."
"Great for fans of: Katie Daisy’s How to Be a Wildflower,
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
"The ForestGirls: A Journal, A Journey, written by Sissel Waage and illustrated by Ivana Josipovic, is a book of thought-provoking prompts to assist young readers in connecting with the natural world around them. As an interactive, guided journal Waage plants the seeds of conscious growth by using plants, trees, and other living elements as metaphors for our own unique characteristics in eight interconnected parts: Look Around, Dig In, Nourish, Energize, Reach, Stand Firm, Be Resilient, and Look Forward. Integrated into the text is the artwork of Josipovic who blends a monochrome palette of black, white, and green in sketch patterns to breathe life into the words.
As a parent who is raising children in the near center of a major city, I often forget that their vision of the planet is shaped almost exclusively by skyscrapers, pavements, and double-decker buses. My teenage daughter had to really step back with a prompt in The ForestGirls where Sissel Waage had her drawing our neighborhood without any buildings, homes or cars, and only using trees, parks, and natural landscape. It was such a small project but it felt so much bigger. Another standout is the transformation of light to energy during photosynthesis, and finding what gave her energy.
We both liked the simple but striking illustrations by Ivana Josipovic, with a particular piece that has a young girl on a tree swing with the wind blowing through her hair.
This is a wonderful journal that would be of benefit to many as we have our children look within themselves and take stock of what surrounds them."
"I absolutely loved this journal. It makes a terrific gift for young and old alike. It’s great for prompting reflection and goal setting and just a beautiful framework for thinking about the world and our place in it.... I’ve also gifted the journal to a few friends who have absolutely loved it! There are quite a lot of journals out there, but this one is special -- definitely grounding and energizing!"
"This wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated journal is such a gem. Don't let the title fool you, it's for all humans really, young and otherwise. It makes a great gift to anyone who is looking for an intentional guide to sit with the challenges of our era, and find joy in and compassion for the world and themselves. Love it."