Review of The Lost Forest

The Lost Forest
by Phyllis Root; illus. by Betsy Bowen
Primary    University of Minnesota    40 pp.
4/19    978-0-8166-9796-0    $17.95

In 1882, a survey team mapping out the wilderness areas of Minnesota made a mistake. As the land was being divided into townships, one of the surveying crew came to Township 150 and wrote (in error), “There is no Pine Timber in the Township,” drawing a large (nearby) lake on their map instead. Seeing no value in the plot, loggers and developers ignored this remote area for decades — and so an old growth forest was left untouched, escaping notice until 1958. As Root explains in this story of the error and its outcome, the land was protected, and so the forest still exists, now known as the “Lost Forty” in Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota. Root includes the details of the surveyors’ activities and the ecology of pine forests like this that once covered the northern United States. Bowen’s painted backgrounds and survey-notebook inserts capture the texture and colors of fresh-cut pine or yellowing maps, contrasted with the darker colors of the plants and animals of the deep woods. A substantial back matter section serves as a field guide to the flora and fauna of the forest; there is also more information about old growth forests, a “talk like a surveyor” glossary, and historical maps and photographs of the survey team.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
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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