cover image Plant a Pocket of Prairie

Plant a Pocket of Prairie

Phyllis Root, illus. by Betsy Bowen. Univ. of Minnesota, $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8166-7980-5

Without placing blame, Root (who, along with Bowen, explored Minnesotan bogs in Big Belching Bog) describes the near-total loss of Midwest prairie habitat: “Almost all gone now/ to farm and town and city,/ even before we knew/ all of the things a prairie could do.” In lilting, free-verse passages, she lets kids know that even small plots of native plants can replicate prairie conditions. “Plant foxglove beardtongue,” she suggests. “A ruby-throated hummingbird/ might hover and sip and thrum.” The excitement keeps growing: “Your pocket of prairie might be full of blooming and buzzing and fluttering. But don’t stop now—Plant purple coneflowers and Joe Pye weed and wait for Dakota skippers and swallowtails to flit and feed.” Bowen’s woodblock illustrations lend the right low-tech, homemade feel to the pages, but kids will probably need additional resources to identify the species Root suggests planting. Although the pages give the impression that the wildlife will show up instantaneously, it might take longer than that for plants to be established and for birds and insects to find them. But if they’re forewarned, kids will wait. Ages 5–10. (Apr.)■