PPBF! Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I like that this story is about how one person can make a big difference.

ladybirdMiss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers – How a First Lady Changed America

By Kathi Appelt

Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein

40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on February 15, 2005

Theme/Topic – Nonfiction, First Ladies, Nature

Opening and Synopsis –

“Deep in the heart of Texas lives a woman who loves flowers. “Wildflowers,” she says, “are the stuff of my heart!”

“There was a time when our roadsides were ugly. The were cluttered with billboards, rusted old cars, and miles of trash.

They might still be this way if not for the woman we know as Lady Bird Johnson.”

Claudia Alta Taylor was born on December 22, 1912 in Texas. Her nanny called her Lady Bird because she was pretty. This book tells the life of Lady Bird Johnson from her birth to her days in school to marrying Lyndon B Johnson and becoming the First Lady of the United States. Lady Bird Johnson with the help of her husband was able to get Congress to pass the “Highway Beautification Act” which cleaned up all the roads across America and planted wildflowers in  the trash and junk’s place.

Why I liked this book – This is a great Nonfiction book! I like that it taught me about a person I didn’t know about – “Lady Bird” Johnson (I think maybe a lot of kids don’t know who she was). She was more than the wife of Lyndon B. Johnson (Heeeyy… I just realized! Both of their initials are “L.B.J.” 🙂 ). I liked learning about the National Wildflower Research Center that Lady Bird started and how they try to preserve wildflowers and birds.  The story of her life is told in a nice way that was interesting to me. The story is pretty long and is a good picture book for older kids, but I think it would make a great read aloud for parents and kids. The illustrations are marvelous! When I was reading the book I thought the pictures really made me calm. See what I mean? –


Activities and Resources –

There is a wildflower identification spot it game in the back of the book. There are pictures of different wildflowers and you have to find them in the book.

I think driving around and looking at the wildflowers with your kids would be a good activity. Maybe get a field guide to try to identify native wildflowers in your area.

You could visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin (click HERE to go to their website). That would be a cool thing to do.  If Texas isn’t close you could find a local nature center and see if they have information about wildflowers native to your area.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE!

Categories: Age 1-5, Age 6-9, Age 9+

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

42 replies

  1. This sounds like the perfect picture book for me. I love wildflowers and history. I’m still trying to learn about all the wildflowers that grow on my family’s farm in Michigan. (I use the Michigan DNR website, in case anyone else hear from Michigan is curious about our wildflowers.) Great review, Erik! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Erik, thanks for this introduction to this picture book. I’ve never heard of this one. I guess you are well on your way to fulfilling your goal of reading more nonfiction.

  3. It looks like you and Ms Hill are on the same wavelength! I live in Texas and Lady Bird is our queen. The Lady Bird Wildflower Center is in Austin and is a fabulous place to visit. As much as I admire Ms Lady Bird, I have not heard of this book. I am grateful for your review! And now will have to go check it out! Thanks!

  4. Lovely choice today, Erik. I am familiar with the work Lady Bird Johnson did with the planting of wildflowers and the “Highway Beautification Act.” You see her work everywhere along highways today. Saw a documentary once on her work. My guess is that your parents may were small kids or may not have been when this occurred. I’m glad you found this book, so kids today will know about her wonderful work. Her daughters Linda and Lucy, were on a recent special that Jenna Bush Hager did on the Today Show with the children and wives that were so fortunate to live and spend Christmas at the White House.

  5. I had never heard of her either. Sounds lovely!

  6. Nice choice, Erik! I live in Texas and every spring when there is enough rain, it is such a pleasure to see the beautiful wildflowers that Lady Bird Johnson loved growing along the highways here. This story is a great reminder that Texas is more than just a desert!

  7. I think LadyBird Johnson had a little Miss Rumphius in her!

  8. Happy New Year, Erik! This IS a Perfect Picture Book.:) Thank you for sharing it..as Lady Bird shared flowers.:) Helping spread beauty is an important task…we can all remember that and we are all fortunate this was one of her goals. Great resource list as well!

  9. Great review and activities, Erik! This book sounds really good, and very interesting. I’m sure I could learn a lot from it since I don’t know much about Lady Bird except that she was LBJ’s wife! Your description of the art is wonderful – I love that it makes you feel calm. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Books like this make history come alive…good one, Erik!

  11. Yes I see what you mean about the art! I’ll be looking for this one!

  12. I will appreciate flowers beside highways even more now that I know that they were the passion of a First Lady. Thanks for sharing this book.

  13. Being a Texan and a big fan of Kathi Appelt, I can’t wait to read this one. I was aware of what a great woman Lady Bird was, and about the Highway Beautification Act. I’m hoping our library has a copy of this. Thanks for a great review, Erik.

  14. Thanks for sharing! I don’t know very much about this famous woman- and I would like to learn more. I like the picture book format and the pictures look fabulous. Also- I love wildflowers. 🙂

  15. How wonderful to teach children about the wildflowers and things that grow by the way-side and are often unnoticed…

  16. I’ve always been so impressed by what Mrs. Johnson did with the wildflowers. I’m delighted to learn there’s a book like this — it looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing it with us, Erik. Great activity suggestions, too!

  17. Hi Erik–thank you so much for this nice review of our book! Joy and I loved working together, and we will always be fans of Miss Lady Bird.

  18. Thank you Erik for your great review of Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers! I love your blog. I am going to share it with friends and family. You gave me one of the nicest compliments I’ve received. Lady Bird wanted everyone to know the peace nature can bring. Kathi Appelt, my dear friend and amazing writer, shared Lady Bird’s vision so perfectly with her story. I am so pleased my paintings brought you a sense of calm. That was my goal! Thank you for sharing.
    Kathi and I created an “activity kit” to go with our book. You and your readers can find it at or http://www.joyfisherhein.com

  19. I love picture book biographies. this sounds like one i would truly need to check out. thanks for alerting me to this one. You’re right, the illustrations do look very peaceful.

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