Have you heard about how the monarch butterfly is rapidly disappearing? The children’s picture book, Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Betsy Bowen, is a quiet, gentle book that just might inspire you and your family to plant a garden to help the monarchs and the many other plants and animals harmed by loss of habitat.
Phyllis Root starts by disclosing how the prairies are almost all gone, in fact the back matter she explains that less than one percent of native prairies remain. She then highlights examples of relationships between specific plants and animals in the prairie ecosystem, such as between foxglove beardtongue (a type of Penstemon) and hummingbirds;
between monarch butterflies and milkweeds;
goldfinches and sunflowers;
and purple coneflower and skippers.
She explains that by growing prairie plants, even in small pockets, the animals that use them will come to visit. In a whimsical twist, she asks who else might come if the pockets of prairie are big enough and the illustration shows a bison mother and calf.
In the back matter are lists of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants found in prairies, perfect for a jumping off point for designing a garden.
Betsy Bowen’s woodblock print illustrations are a lovely accompaniment to Root’s text. They capture the open, airy look of the prairies beautifully. You might want to buy a bookstand and display the open book on a shelf or coffee table because the illustrations are that moving.
Even though Plant a Pocket of Prairie explores the prairies of Minnesota, the book has a much more general appeal and a serious message about preserving habitats that can apply anywhere. It is an inspirational book for children of all ages who love being outdoors and who enjoy nature. Pick up a copy today!
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (May 2014)
See more about Plant a Pocket of Prairie and related activities in a previous post at Growing with Science.
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