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Review of Prairie Dog Song: The Key to Saving 
North America’s Grasslands

roth_prairie dog songPrairie Dog Song: The Key to Saving 
North America’s Grasslands
by Susan L. Roth and Cindy 
Trumbore; illus. by Susan L. Roth
Primary    Lee & Low    40 pp.
4/16    978-1-62014-245-5    $18.95    g

Roth and Trumbore take off from the cumulative folk song “The Green Grass Grew All Around” to detail the plight of the prairie dog. Prairie dogs were once abundant, but their numbers have been greatly reduced by farming and development. In Janos, Mexico, an area largely untouched by modern farming techniques, scientists and conservationists document the importance of the black-tailed prairie dog and work to restore other grassland species (ferrets and bison). Roth’s mixed-media illustrations are painstakingly precise in detail and bursting with rich and varied colors. The waving seas of native grasses in the vast open spaces — each tiny individual blade perfectly placed — the changeable hues of the open skies, and the fuzzy textures of each animal’s fur or their fluffy feathers are awe inspiring. The writing is equally impressive. Two independently strong texts — one in the form of a modified song lyric (“And down those holes / Lived prairie dogs, / With the friskiest pups / That you ever did see”; musical score appended) the other an in-depth nonfiction account — are filled with scientific details on the biology and ecology of the grassland environments. Together they encourage multiple readings and viewings, allowing readers to find new details and to develop a strong appreciation for conservation and the natural world. Extensive notes and resources, including photographs of the animals, people, and places mentioned in the book, are included.

From the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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