cover image The Lost Forest

The Lost Forest

Phyllis Root, illus. by Betsy Bowen. Univ. of Minnesota, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8166-9796-0

“How do you lose a forest?/ First you need a forest to lose.” So begins Root’s beguiling true-life telling of how 114 acres of northern Minnesota old-growth pine forest was spared the lumberjack’s saw thanks to a surveyor’s error in 1882. Two narratives grow side-by-side: the story of the U.S. taking land from Native peoples to be mapped and measured, and the deeper truth that forests operate on their own timescale. At the intersection of these realities is one mismarked map that meant a lost forest, an ancient world’s survival. Finely wrought plainspoken poetry (“If you have ever walked through the woods/ you know that the land doesn’t care/ about straight lines”) covers a lot of ground, supplemented by end notes explaining the ecology of old-growth forests and the history of surveyors. Bowen’s moody, saturated illustrations of layered landscapes and historical journals add heft to the text’s implicit message that the natural world is something more than a measurable commodity. Ages 4–9. [em](Apr.) [/em]