Isabella and Smith explore the ecological effects of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.
Seemingly simple yet remarkably comprehensive—a bit like the ecosystem web it describes—this picture book explains how the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem, deprived for 70 years of its apex predator, became overpopulated with elk and how it began to reclaim its balance with the reintroduction of wolves. While an anchor narrative tells the story of the park’s ecosystem changes, interspersed sidebars delve into adjunct topics. For example, recurring sidebars titled “It’s Elemental” describe the effects of climate and weather while others add deeper details, such as describing a wolf’s physiological traits. In this way, abundant amounts of information are presented in an easy-to-understand format. Colorful, posterlike illustrations add liveliness to the format and open up the whole design visually so the expansive topic feels unintimidating. It’s all here: how wolves, by being wolves, reduced the elk population, which allowed more plant life to grow, which brought more berries for bears and more habitat for insects and birds, which created more pollination—among many other restorations. Beyond gaining an understanding of this particular ecosystem, readers will no doubt grasp the concept of the vast interdependencies within any ecosystem. Bolded words within the narrative are defined in a glossary in the backmatter, which also includes further resources and an index.
Clear, comprehensive, and thoroughly accessible. (Informational picture book. 8-14)