65. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers
by Kathi Appelt
illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
children's book, 2005
December 22 is the 100th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson's birth. She was born Claudia Alta Taylor, though she was always known by the nickname given her as a baby by her nanny.
She grew up in great comfort but also in great sadness. Her mother died from falling down the stairs when the little girl was only six years old. A neighbor told the lonely child a story about her mother.
Her father did his best taking care of her, but finally called in her Aunt Effie to help with raising Lady Bird. From her aunt, she learned an appreciation of flowers. Aunt Effie planted daffodils and when the first one bloomed each year, Lady Bird would sing it a song, and say it was a princess. As the book goes along, we see her strong love of the natural world both in her hometown and later when she goes away to college. When she meets and marries the future President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the reader learns that Lady Bird was especially taken with the flowers in Mexico, where they spent their honeymoon.
When Lyndon is elected to the Congress, and the couple moves to Washington, Lady Bird is saddened by the 'dismal' city landscape. She worries about children growing up in such surroundings as she remembers 'how beautiful flowers and trees had helped her thrive.' After her husband becomes President she takes this feeling still further. 'She knew from her own experience that beauty would help the country recover' from the sadness of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Thanks to her boundless energy, and with the urging of the president, the Highway Beautification Act was passed by Congress. Because of that law the landscapes along the interstate highways of our great land were cleared of signs and rusted cars. The roadsides were blanketed in native wildflowers.I can hardly believe there was a time when such sights as this were common along the roads.
This is a wonderful, wonderful book. I hope that the former First Lady saw it before she died in 2007. I learned so much about Lady Bird. The writing is engaging, and the illustrations are excellent. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers would make a perfect Christmas present for a child, or an adult. I am very pleased to say that Blue Slip Media has offered a giveaway of the book.
I will do a drawing a week from today, on Wednesday, the 12th. If you would like to be entered to win a copy please let me know in a comment on any post today through Tuesday, the 11th, or you may email me. The only thing is that the winner must be in the US or Canada.
The author has put together a fun and instructive PDF, found here, of activities to help celebrate Lady Bird's birthday.
As a special treat here are the Sweetback Sisters doing Texas Bluebonnets. (not the Texas state song version)