The Prairie That Nature Built

September 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Books


A gorgeous and detailed new book from Dawn Publications makes sure that we know it’s not only “still waters” that run deep — prairies have a lot going on beneath the surface as well! The Prairie That Nature Built will delight eyes and ears with its story of the ecosystem upon which a prairie’s flora and fauna depend.

PrairieAuthor Marybeth Lorbiecki has created a rhythmic and rhyming text that shows the interconnectedness of the smallest worm to prairie dogs to rabbits to buffalo. She builds the story of the prairie to show the ecosystem’s beauty as well as its reality. Illustrator Cathy Morrison adds to the words with realistic, but accessible digital drawings. The detail is both beautiful and educational. My children spent a great amount of time finding and naming various animals and plants on each page.

Something I greatly appreciated was the emphasis on the complex relationship each part of the prairie has with its neighbors. Lorbiecki mentions that worms make “good earth from animal poo” and points out that prairie dogs dig tunnels used by many animals, including owls! Roots even get a hero’s mention as preserving water during long, dry stretches with no rain. It is explained that lightning starts fires that rain then squelches, and new life sprouts up fresh and green to complete the circle of life in the ecosystem of the prairie. This is all talked about in simple and fun language that rhymes without being too cutesy.

The book ends with the narrator and the family dog celebrating their love of the prairie with joy and appreciation. Both the author and the illustrator have direct and intense experience with prairies, and their love for the land and animal inhabitants definitely comes through.

Naturally, because The Prairie That Nature Built deals with the animal kingdom, the food chain of the prairie is mentioned. Birds of prey are highlighted as finding prairie dogs a tasty treat, and wolves and foxes are shown hunting and pouncing. The illustrations are not graphic, but they do show the hunt. In our family, the words and images prompted a wonderful discussion about the difference between nature, necessity, and choice.

I found this book enjoyable, and definitely worthy of repeated readings. We are almost ready to start the Little House series, and I intend to keep our copy of The Prairie That Nature Built handy for when my children wonder how Laura and Mary could have kept themselves busy in a wide open prairie expanse.

Highly recommended for children ages 3-8.

The publisher sent a copy of this book for review.

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