"“The Great Kapok Tree” was written by Lynne Cherry in response to the murder of Brazilian environmental activist Chico Mendes, who was assassinated by a rancher in 1988 in Brazil. Mendes’ murder was a significant international incident galvanizing support for environmental activists working to protect the Amazon forest.
In “The Great Kapok Tree,” a young person enters the Amazon forest to cut firewood. One young boy falls asleep. While asleep, the animals “talk” to him, explaining why forests are so important for our world. The young boy wakes up, considers the animals’ messages, puts down his ax, and decides to no longer cut down trees.
“The Great Kapok Tree” initially received a mixed reception by critics. Yet, within a couple of years of publication, it became one of the most influential conservation-themed children’s books of the last 40 years.”