Magazine article American Forests

Drawn to the Woods

Magazine article American Forests

Drawn to the Woods

Article excerpt

As a child, Lynn Cherry loved to walk in the woods with her cat, chasing butterflies and watching birds. Maybe that's why its loss devastated her spiritand led to a career fighting environmental destruction.

"When I was about eight I came home from school and they were bulldozing the forest," she says. "It was the destruction of my world, the loss of my own personal wild space that I loved so much. That's why I'm committed to teaching kids early. It gives them a vested interest in protecting the natural world; it makes it a part of who they are."

A nationally known illustrator and author, Cherry writes children's books on everything from the far-away Amazon rainforest to not-so-distant Amarillo, Texas, all with a single-minded goal: to educate and motivate children to involve themselves in the future design of their communities.

Cherry's lifelong connection with the environment began at age two when she and her father planted a weeping willow Tucked away in farm country outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cherry's childhood home was a natural wonderland of untouched forests, clean streams, and abundant wildlife. The bulldozing of that private forestland for housing developments came as a heavy blow but prompted her decision to "do something."

Her artistic career began when, as a teenager, she wrote and illustrated stories about animals in the forest. By the time she completed her B.EA. from Philadelphia's Tyler School of Art and a M.A. in history from Yale University Cherry was already an established children's author. And as time went on, she also became an advocate for environmental issues-with her pen as her sword.

In Flutes Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush, Cherry tells the story of a young songbird who journeys from his home in Maryland's Belt Woods to his wintering habitat in Costa Rica's Monteverde rainforest.When Flute returns in the spring he finds his forest home altered by logging and development. With fewer trees Flute struggles for survival amidst hungry house cats, hawks, and pesticide-laden streams.

Cherry's book was inspired by her own work on behalf of Belt Woods. Seton Belt, the wood's protector, bequeathed several thousand acres to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC, in 1959, stipulating that 515 acres of old-growth forest around his family's farm never be cut. …

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