Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Prairie Dog Song

Prairie Dog Song

Spring 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 - 11 yrs.
Author: Cindy Trumbore
Author: Susan L. Roth
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
ISBN: 978-1-62014-245-5
Hardcover Price: $18.95

The text of this book is a cumulative song. It is also a play on the cumulative role that the prairie dogs played in the ecology of the grassland prairies that once covered the plains of North America from Canada to Mexico.

Their habits, habitats and impact on the ecosystem are not to be underestimated. When prairie dogs dig holes and tunnels in the ground in which to live and raise their pups, they fertilize and loosen the soil, and their holes trap moisture, fostering the health of the grasses. Other animals and insects share these holes. Burrowing owls move into empty holes. The prairie dogs make up most of the diet of black-footed ferrets and much of the diet of golden eagles. Bison eat the grasses and stomp around doing their part for the ecology of the prairie. And so it continued for thousands of years.

But when farmers and ranchers took hold in the nineteenth century, the prairies changed. Overtime, the grasses were cleared and the prairie dogs killed off, and so were the creatures depended on them.

In 1988, however, Gerardo Ceballos, an environmental scientist, discovered a large tract of prairie grassland in Janos, Mexico. He and other scientists decided to restore it to its former health. Black -footed ferrets were re-introduced as were buffalo. Finally Mexico declared the whole grasslands ecosystem, known as "Janos Biosphere Reserve," protected.

The format makes this book work as both a picture book and an informational book for somewhat older readers. On the left-hand page of every double-page spread, there is a broad, cream-colored strip with the text in two colors. The black text is the cumulative poem (or song) with the smaller brown text underneath it giving both ecological and the specific information about the history of the Janos Biosphere Reserve. With a beige, yellow and green-hued palette, and beautifully designed and executed collage illustrations, this book also contains the music, words to the song, photographs, and additional information. Highly recommended.

Kemie Nix   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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