Books by Betsy Bowen

THE LOST FOREST by Phyllis Root
Released: April 2, 2019

"An engaging consideration of happy accidents and lucky environmental mistakes. (Informational picture book. 5-9)"
Human error works for the greater good in this engaging true tale of an old-growth forest getting the last laugh. Read full book review >
ONE NORTH STAR by Phyllis Root
Released: Aug. 15, 2016

"A bright, populous countdown for nature lovers, Midwestern or otherwise. (Picture book. 5-7)"
A cumulative tally of flora and fauna in Minnesota—the North Star State. Read full book review >
Released: April 15, 2014

"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)"
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. Read full book review >
SHINGEBISS by Nancy van Laan
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

Van Laan (La Boda, 1996, etc.) goes to the way back time, when Shingebiss, a resourceful merganser duck, presents a challenge to Kabibona'kan, Winter Maker, who does not want him to be able to withstand the harsh winter. Winter Maker does everything in his power to thwart Shingebiss's efforts to catch fish—he freezes the waters of Great Lake Superior ``as solid as stone.'' Knowing that the clever duck has only four logs to last the winter, Kabibona'kan is certain he can blow drifts deep enough to freeze the bird. But the theme of the small overcoming the mighty prevails, for the tiny hero can be neither frozen nor starved. According to Ojibwe legend, Shingebiss has ever since served as a reminder of perseverence and fortitude. Bowen's labor-intensive, painstaking process of carving and inking woodblocks in stages produces an effective primitive style that evokes contrasts of the northern wilderness clime: The warm umbers of Shingebiss's wigwam home are carefully collated with the chilling blues and icy whites of the scenes where the appropriately scary Winter Maker is at work. Hand-lettered text is framed in borders inspired by the shape of Ojibwe ricing baskets, adding a rustic lure to the lore. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
GATHERING by Betsy Bowen
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

Bowen follows up her boundary waters alphabet book Antler, Bear, Canoe (1991) with a book of numbers that follows the sun's rays through the seasons. Not for those with seasonal affective disorder, this book emphasizes the flurry of summer activity that occurs on northern climates, in preparation for nine months of winter. Swimming, berry picking, fishing, and collecting wild rice fill the short months of summer, to when savored later, when the snow falls. The wood grain and bright colors of Bowen's block prints evoke an environment of trees, mosquitoes, loons, and pine, bathed in the light of a clear, if sometimes cold, sun. The narrator explains that in spring, ``we'' (a family) must think ahead to the months when temperatures will hit zero, and start preparations immediately. Readers count through summer and fall, concluding with 12 inches of snow in winter. The concept is simple and pure, with each act a celebration of a special way of life. The only thing missing in this book is a section on negative numbers, to record the thermometer readings of -34¯ in darkest December! (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

The author-illustrator of Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year (1991) takes a second look at the forest near her Minnesota home, once again structuring her material creatively to explicate her theme. Presenting 13 animals, roughly in size order from mouse to moose, Bowen represents their footprints in actual size, provides outstandingly handsome portraits (her woodcuts' stark, angular black is overlaid with luminous watercolors of delectable subtlety), and adds brief commentaries on what can be learned by following animals' tracks and observing other evidence of their passing. Scientific names are included, but the well- chosen quotes (from Winnie-the Pooh and the Book of Job as well as several Native Americans)—which underline Bowen's quiet reverence for the animals and what their ways may teach humans- -are not always sourced. Still, a lovely book, intelligently conceived and beautifully executed. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
ANTLER, BEAR, CANOE by Betsy Bowen
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

In a picture book debut that uses handsome woodcuts to present a regional theme (recalling Azarian's A Farmer's Alphabet, 1981), Bowen chooses subjects that typify Minnesota's north woods, cleverly ordering them by a year's cycle as well as by the alphabet. ``Fishing'' can be done through March's ice; ``Junk'' appears when the snow melts; ``Loons'' hatch in July, when ``Northern lights'' may appear; and so on to ``Zero,'' December's cold. Well-chosen bits of information combine with the woodcut's vigorous black and skillfully added watercolor to give the flavor of this attractive region. (Picture book. 5-9)*justify no* Read full book review >