by Nancy Bo Flood on March 25, 2014


 You can count on any book by Phyllis Root to surprise and delight, maybe stop you in your thinking tracks.  PLANT A POCKET OF PRAIRIE … what is this you might ask, a book about planting a prairie?  Yes!  This is a lyrical, thoughtful and inspiring book about all that a prairie offers – butterflies and bugs, bison and blooming flowers.  The illustrations by Betsy Bowen feel as fresh as spring.  Each page introduces and invites the reader to look closely and then listen to what might happen if one does plant a bit of prairie.

 Imagine “all the things a prairie could do” if you protected a bit of prairie or planted a few seeds – “Plant butterfly weed.”   And with the summer sun, watch butterflies, even monarchs, in your pocket of prairie.  “Plant sunflowers, and goldfinches might dine upside down.”

Phyllis Root photo I asked Phyllis (while having coffee and glancing outside at Minnesota’s deep snow still frozen in the way-below freezing temperature), “Why did you write about the prairie?”

Big Belching Bog by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy BowenPhyllis answered, “ What you don’t know about, you cannot care about.  Of the ten or so bio-systems in the Midwest, the prairie is the most endangered.  Hardly any real prairie remains.”  Phyllis described that while researching and writing about bogs (BIG BELCHING BOG) she discovered another amazing ecosystem – the prairie.  She was startled at the diversity of wild grasses, flowers, insects, birds and mammals that thrive in prairies, little ones, big ones, new ones, old ones.  In PLANT A POCKET OF PRAIRIE, Phyllis introduces the reader to many of these plants and animals. And then Phyllis added, “I fell in love with the prairie and I hope kids will too!”

one duck stuckEnjoy this new book along with old favorites written by Phyllis Root.  I still big mamalove reading aloud her rambunctious ONE DUCK STUCK. Phyllis explained that even though it is a simple picture book with humor and rhyme, she was careful – as with all her books– with accuracy.  All the animals “belong together” in the book’s “eco-system” and setting.  Phyllis’ words, rhyme, and rhythm are magical.  In BIG MAMA MAKES THE WORLD the down-home creation of the universe sings out with a powerful pleasing voice and story that was honored with many awards including the Boston Globe-Horn Book award.

Enjoy reading and sharing with a young listener Phyllis Root’s wonderful books- from stuck ducks to belching bogs or her latest, the blooming buzzing prairie. University of Minnesota Press, May 2014

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