Following their Sibert Award–winning Parrots Over Puerto Rico, Roth and Trumbore turn to prairie dogs.
Each double-page spread includes a collage, a verse from a cumulative song based on “And the Green Grass Grew All Around,” and text detailing the evolving history and ecological significance of prairie dogs in North America. The clever layout makes this a book that can grow with its readers. For little ones, the large-print words of the song can be used along with the amazing artwork; older readers can move on to the highly informative, engaging narrative. The song teaches succinctly about the biodiversity of the prairie habitat before farmers and ranchers, the near-extinction of the entire habitat, and the return to biodiversity once the importance of the prairie dogs was recognized. In flowing, conversational language, the text for older readers includes such subjects as 19th-century, government-sanctioned prairie dog poisoning and how, in 1988, the prairie dog was finally recognized as a keystone species—one on which an entire ecosystem depends. The ongoing tale is uplifting, as individual people, organizations, and, finally, the government of Mexico have helped to bring back both the prairie dog and the prairie. Although the song’s scansion is rough at times—“owls bur-rowed” could have been “owls bur-rowed in”—adult readers can compensate for this, and the entire book is a worthy work of science-and-arts integration.
An inspiration. (additional facts, timeline, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-12)