Monday, July 4, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: Prairie Dog Song by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

Prairie Dog Song by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. 40 p. Lee & Low Books, May, 2016, 9781620142455. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library.)

When my oldest was small, the two of us frequented our local county zoo, where among other things, there was a prairie dog exhibit that could be viewed from the outside as well as inside. Those perky, energetic, clownish mammals just tickled us. I thought of those visits when I spied this at one of my local libraries and grabbed it not realizing that it was done by the team that brought me another favorite, Parrots over Puerto Rico, a 2014 Sibert Medal Winner. 

There's a dual narrative going on here - a cumulative poem/ story about the history of prairie dog life in North America (It can be sung to the tune of The Green Grass Grows All Around - music and lyrics provided at the back - no thank you), followed by two or three informational paragraphs about  prairie dogs, the prairie biome, and the animals that share the grasslands with prairie dogs. 

With the prairie lands taken over by farming and ranching, the prairie ecosystem all but vanished. But in the 1980s, scientist found an undisturbed prairie in Mexico and set about working to preserve the ecosystem.

The art is just superb - mixed media collages - textured and detailed, with swaths of color, such as a brilliant sunset perking up the tans and greens of grasslands. The spreads just beg to be lingered over. 

Back matter includes additional prairie dog facts, a timeline of the Janos Grasslands and photographs of the animals featured in the book. Glossary and pronunciation guide and a source page round out this fascinating look at the importance of biodiversity and successful conservation in action. 

Let your science teachers know about this so that they can incorporate it into their units on biodiversity or biomes. It's a keeper!

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