April 8, 2014
Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen
Plant a Pocket of Prairie
by Phyllis Root
illustrated by Betsy Bowen
University of Minnesota Press
“Once prairie stretched for thousands of miles, an ocean of flowers and grasses, a sea of sky, home for bison and elk, prairie chickens, burrowing owls, five-lined skinks, Plain garter snakes, and Ottoe skipper butterflies.
So opens Root’s Plant a Pocket of Prairie. Given this opening, you might think “bummer book” but you’d be wrong. Root quickly moves on to tell readers that if they want to know what the prairie was like, they can do something about it. It’s as simple as planting a pocket of prairie. You don’t even need a field or a yard.
A container of the flower, foxglove beardtongue, brings in hummingbirds. Butterfly week, rough blazing star and asters bring in a variety of butterflies. Plant of plant and creature after creature, Root tells readers how to bring in birds, insects, toads, and mice. If enouch people plant pockets of prairie, who knows what they can bring back…
Root’s text is simple and poetic for a quick, inspiring read. She wraps up the book with a detailed author’s note abut how vast the prairie once was as well as the plants and animals that lived there.
Betsy Bowen’s paintings are a dreamy accompaniament to the text. Admittedly, I would have chosen a style that looks more like a botanical print, but I realize that her illustrations compliment the tone of the text. While not scientific illustrations, she uses simple black lines and bright colors to recreate clearly recognizable portraits of each plant and animal while sticking with the lighter tone of the text.
This isn’t a text heavy book and would work well for a read-aloud before a unit on prairie or grasslands or a visit to an existing patch of prairie. Use this text to inspire young diggers to plant their own patch of prairie.