Traditionally patterned verses celebrate the flora, fauna and wide sky of the mixed-grass prairie of Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
“Out on the prairie where the snakeroot greets the sun, / Lived a shaggy mother bison and her little calf One.” As she did in Deep in the Swamp (2007), Bateman has chosen representative features and creatures to introduce a remarkable ecosystem. Counting from one to 10, she goes on to include pronghorns, meadowlarks, prairie dogs, grasshoppers, grouse, owls, rattlesnakes, coyotes and toads in a series of verses that also span the day from dawn to night. The poetry is not sacrificed to the information; she pays careful attention to language and rhythm, using splendid verbs. It reads aloud smoothly. Swan’s energetic cut-paper, mixed-media illustrations delight and instruct. She includes found objects and hand-painted paper, collaged and digitally combined on double-page spreads that blend into a spatter-paint frame in the story section. Plants and animals are identifiable in the pictures and described further in the backmatter, 10 pages of “Prairie Flora and Fauna Facts.” This describes the animals’ child-bearing and -rearing habits, offers further information about the plants, and defines the term “prairie.”
Another outstanding appreciation of the natural world for young readers and listeners both. (Informational picture book. 4-8)