“Plant a Pocket of Prairie,” by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen (University of Minnesota Press, 2014, $14.95)
This lovely book was written for kids, but I’d recommend it for adults, as well. We’ve all heard how there’s only a tiny remnant of native prairie left, but this dismal fact is often lost among other negative environmental news. However, Phyllis Root’s simple text and Betsy Bowen’s stunning illustrations clearly make the case for how valuable prairies are and the interconnectedness of life there, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.
But they don’t leave us hanging in limbo. The genius of the book is that it shows us how to make a difference, and this is the part kids will especially love. Plant some prairie plants in your back yard, boulevard or even in a window box, and then watch beautiful butterflies feeding on a blazing star, a toad snatching beetles from goldenrod and bumblebees collecting pollen from bottle gentian plants.
And then the book opens it up to the broader view — what would happen if we all planted a pocket of prairie? The text is supplemented with useful information on locating native plants to purchase, some of the wildlife that used to inhabit the prairie and the flowers and grasses found in this habitat.