Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Plant a Pocket of Prairie

About the Book:  If you are looking for a wonderful story for children ages 5 - 10 then Plant a Pocket of Prairie is the book for you.  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!

About The Author:  Phyllis Root was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Valentine's Day, 1949, and grew up among green grass, gardens, trees, open fields, and books, books, books. Her father says he remembers her reading in her high chair. She used to make up stories in bed at night when she couldn't sleep and her parents had caught her with a book and a flashlight.   Since then she has published thirty books, starting with Moon Tiger in 1985. In 1997 Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble, an original tale about a female trickster, won the Minnesota Picture Book text award. What Baby Wants was cited as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year in 1998. Big Momma Makes the World won the 2003 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for picture books.

She is currently teaching in the MFA Writing for Children program of Hamline University. She lives in Minneapolis with  two cats, and numerous butterflies in season amid prairie plants, trees, lakes, and books, books, books. In her spare time she loves canoeing, sailing, gardening, and of course reading.

About The Illustrator:  According to Betsy Bowen “The aim of an artist is to make people love life,” said Leo Tolstoy.  the artist lives and works on the edge of the wilderness near Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior, on the old homestead bought by her suburban parents in 1963 to allow the family to experience another way of life.  In her early years, she focused on hand made textiles.  Her work in woodblock printmaking has continued the ethic of seeking a straightforward livelihood generated by making goods by hand.  The prints recently have focused on illustrations for picture books, written by herself, and others.  The topics have evolved from views of  local rural life into the folktales and stories which inform rural lives worldwide.  Recent interest in the oral tradition of these folktales has led Bowen toward pageantry, creating puppets, scripts, and staging for community street theater and dance performances.  Artistic activities include woodblock print illustrations for five picture-books, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1991-2002, with topics embracing rural Minnesota life, and Ojibwe and Norwegian traditional stories.  Three of the books, Antler, Bear, Canoe,  Tracks in the Wilderness and Gathering: A North Woods Counting Book are written by Betsy.  Other recent projects are calendars for Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, Minnesota Journal 2000 project for Minnesota Historical Society, and large, and small-scale puppet theater works as Good Harbor Hill Players.  Currently operating Betsy Bowen Studio, a fine art family print shop, hand-printing Betsy’s woodblocks for sale to galleries and art fairs.  Her education includes various college level experiences from 1965 through 1997, the finale being a BA degree from Vermont College in Liberal Studies as well as significant workshop experiences with Grand Marais Art Colony.

My Thoughts On The Book:  As a child who was introduced to nature at an early age by parents who loved planting, growing, hunting, fishing, bird watching this story touched my heart to the core.  It brought back so many memories of bird watching with my father.  There is nothing better than exploring nature as a child. 
This charming book encourages readers young and old to bring back the prairie by planting their own little pocket of plants native to long-lost prairies. I enjoyed the progression of the author’s suggested plantings, and the amazing illustrations brought the story to life.  It was written about Minnesota, but it made me realize that this did not just have to be a prairie, it could be anywhere that the ecosystem is being threatened.  I am from South Florida and thought of the Everglades and the amazing orange groves that used to be.  Because of my mom's love for plants, herbs, trees, and my dad's love of nature and birds I found that  I recognized many of the plants and birds from the story.  This is a must read.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way, all opinion contained in this review are 100% my own.  

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