Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root, Betsy Bowen |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Plant a Pocket of Prairie

Plant a Pocket of Prairie

by Phyllis Root, Betsy Bowen
     
 

Author Phyllis Root and illustrator Betsy Bowen last explored the vast, boggy peatlands of northern Minnesota in their book Big Belching Bog. Now, in Plant a Pocket of Prairie, Root and Bowen take young readers on a trip to another of Minnesota’s important ecosystems: the prairie.

Once covering almost 40 percent of the United States,

Overview

Author Phyllis Root and illustrator Betsy Bowen last explored the vast, boggy peatlands of northern Minnesota in their book Big Belching Bog. Now, in Plant a Pocket of Prairie, Root and Bowen take young readers on a trip to another of Minnesota’s important ecosystems: the prairie.

Once covering almost 40 percent of the United States, native prairie is today one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. Plant a Pocket of Prairie teaches children how changes in one part of the system affect every other part: when prairie plants are destroyed, the animals who eat those plants and live on or around them are harmed as well. Root shows what happens when we work to restore the prairies, encouraging readers to “plant a pocket of prairie” in their own backyards.

By growing native prairie plants, children can help re-create food and habitat for the many birds, butterflies, and other animals that depend on them. “Plant cup plants,” Root suggests. “A thirsty chickadee might come to drink from a tiny leaf pool. Plant goldenrod. A Great Plains toad might flick its tongue at goldenrod soldier beetles.” An easy explanation of the history of the prairie, its endangered status, and how to go about growing prairie plants follows, as well as brief descriptions of all the plants and animals mentioned in the story.

With Betsy Bowen’s beautiful, airy illustrations capturing the feel of an open prairie and all its inhabitants, readers of all ages will be inspired to start planting seeds and watching for the many fascinating animals their plants attract. What a marvelous transformation could take place if we all planted a pocket of prairie!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Without placing blame, Root (who, along with Bowen, explored Minnesotan bogs in Big Belching Bog) describes the near-total loss of Midwest prairie habitat: “Almost all gone now/ to farm and town and city,/ even before we knew/ all of the things a prairie could do.” In lilting, free-verse passages, she lets kids know that even small plots of native plants can replicate prairie conditions. “Plant foxglove beardtongue,” she suggests. “A ruby-throated hummingbird/ might hover and sip and thrum.” The excitement keeps growing: “Your pocket of prairie might be full of blooming and buzzing and fluttering. But don’t stop now—Plant purple coneflowers and Joe Pye weed and wait for Dakota skippers and swallowtails to flit and feed.” Bowen’s woodblock illustrations lend the right low-tech, homemade feel to the pages, but kids will probably need additional resources to identify the species Root suggests planting. Although the pages give the impression that the wildlife will show up instantaneously, it might take longer than that for plants to be established and for birds and insects to find them. But if they’re forewarned, kids will wait. Ages 5–10. (Apr.)¦
From the Publisher
"In lilting, free-verse passages, [Root] lets kids know that even small plots of native plants can replicate prairie conditions. Bowen’s woodblock illustrations lend the right low-tech, homemade feel to the pages." —Publishers Weekly

"Could well inspire a new generation of conservationists." —Kirkus Reviews

"Although the description here is of the inhabitants of a Midwestern prairie, the conservation and restoration message is universal." —Horn Book Magazine

"Plant a Pocket of Prairie is one of the spring season's most beautiful and useful books." —Pioneer Press

School Library Journal
09/01/2014
Gr 1–4—This exploration and imaginative re-creation of the prairie habitat that once covered almost 40 percent of the United States is much more than a mere gardening book. Double-page woodblocks on stark white backgrounds depict the habitat replaced by wheat farms and cattle ranches. The delicate colors belie the strength and importance of these grasses and flowers in creating a self-sustaining environment for animals and insects. Free verse poems invite readers to plant flowers and reconstruct pockets of lost prairie in backyards and on balconies to entice insects and birds to return, such as butterfly weed to attract monarch butterflies or rough blazing star for great spangled fritillaries. A map shows the once extensive prairie in Minnesota and the less than one percent now remaining, while the plant list will inspire the planting of at least some of the 14 recommended flowers and grasses. Perhaps all the seven prairie birds, nine butterflies and insects, four reptiles and amphibians listed and described will visit, and with a lot of luck, a bison or elk may just show up as well. A beautiful and informative offering that will be snapped up from any display.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-12
Readers won't find a definition of what a prairie actually is, but they will learn about the wealth of flora and fauna it contains—and how the loss of any of its life forms affects others tremendously. Even urban and suburban dwellers can help bring prairies to life again, if only in a limited way, by "[planting] a pocket of prairie / in your backyard / or boulevard / or boxes on a balcony." Doing so would invite a host of birds, animals and insects to feast on typical prairie plants bearing wonderful names like "foxglove beardtongue" and "hairy mountain mint." To this end, it helps that the author advises that certain plants can thrive in containers, while some plants must be planted in the earth, but this isn't really a gardening book. Instead, it's a fanciful celebration of possibility, as with the addition of each new plant in the hypothetical "pocket," more prairie wildlife appears, till a bison and her calf are browsing in the grasses. The lively, simple text is poetic; the colorful illustrations of native creatures and plants are energetic. While some of the author's supplemental text and a map refer specifically to Minnesota, she emphasizes that tiny "pockets of prairie" still exist in various—and unexpected—places elsewhere. This not-so-whimsical flight of fancy could well inspire a new generation of conservationists. (notes about prairies and prairie wildlife) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816679805
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
05/21/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
239,503
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Root is the author of more than forty books for children, including Ten Sleepy Sheep, One Duck Stuck, and Big Momma Makes the World, which won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. She is also the author of Big Belching Bog (Minnesota, 2010), illustrated by Betsy Bowen. She lives in Minneapolis.

Betsy Bowen is the author and/or illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman (Minnesota, 2005); Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year; and Big Belching Bog (Minnesota, 2010). She lives in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

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