A cumulative rhyme describes the components of a prairie from soil partners, roots and pollinators through plants, grazers and predators to the sky-high lightning that brings revitalizing fire. Longtime prairie fan Lorbiecki offers an informative look at an ecosystem that once covered much of the Great Plains. Beginning in the dark, thick prairie soil, her poem moves upward and outward, building and repeating until the climactic storm. In the calm after the storm, both world and poem have changed. The writing is lively and suggestive, describing “critters / that worm and squirm,” “birds…chomping the insects” and the “fire / So red-hot and swift it moves without tire.” Her story ends with a child and dog out walking, appreciating this special place. . . . Morrison’s digital illustrations are full of identifiable creatures and tiny details. While the text will read aloud nicely, the images are worth the careful attention a child reading alone can give them. The end matter includes a “Prairie Primer” that reveals the book’s underlying organization as well as follow-up activities and further research sources. A vivid introduction to a vital habitat. (Informational picture book. 4-9)
–Kirkus Reviews – Vicky Smith (July 25, 2014)
Vibrant and dynamic two-page spreads burst with life, exuberance, and authenticity in this gorgeous overview of a prairie ecosystem. The vivid word choice of the verse—constructed with deft use of repetition and rhyme—is loaded with rich imagery. That this beautiful book manages to be simple and complex simultaneously is extraordinary. Ages four to ten.
–Forward Reviews – Stacy Price (July 25, 2014)
Here’s a great read with gorgeous illustrations for kids of all ages revealing the beauty and complexity of the prairie. You’ll learn about the plants and critters that depend upon one of the most endangered ecological systems in the world? all while having fun!
–Buddy Huffaker, President, Aldo Leopold Foundation
From the “critters that worm and squirm” to “the plants that shoot so high” to “the birds that sing and fly”, the prairie buzzes with life as readers get a close-up look at this thriving environment. With detailed information on the prairie inhabitants and suggestions for related activities and further study included at the end of the book, this beautiful, dynamically-illustrated addition to Dawn Publications long list of nature-themed books for young people is a real standout. Customers can get a free app for Apple and Android devices which makes the prairie come to life in brilliant 3-D. The book is also available in hardback.
I’ve submitted the following review(s) of The Prairie That Nature Built for Retailing Insight’s special October online Giftbook reviews.
–Retailing Insight – Anna Jedrziewski (Sept. 17, 2014)
This book is full of information about prairies from start to finish. Each page has detailed illustrations bursting with every imaginable form of life, from insects in the soil, to prairie dogs, and grasses on the ground, to birds in the sky. Each is equally represented and discussed, which highlights the important role each species plays in the unique ecosystem of the prairie. The writing is simple to complement the intricacy of the colorful illustrations. This helps to direct the reader to all of the features in the illustrations. This book also does not shy away from more serious events, like the danger of wildfire and the fierce prowess of carnivorous hunters. At the end, there is a comprehensive list of all the animals represented, organized by categories such as scavengers, grazers, etc. There is also a helpful section with more information about prairies around the world, for more advanced readers to enjoy, and enrich the already abundant information provided by this book. From the text to the illustrations to the extra sections in the back, this book is good for a wide range of ages to familiarize children with the complexities of an ecosystem, and to make them aware of the countless species that need to live together to survive.
–Skipping Stones – Charlotte Rhinegold (June 2015)
The Prairie That Nature Built is a picture book that teaches young readers about the ecology of the prairie. The text is a singsong rhyme in the style of the nursery classic “The House that Jack Built”, but packed with fascinating prairie facts. “These are the birds that sing and fly, / Chomping the insects that bring pollen by / To all the plants that shoot for the sky, / Up from the roots that plunge so deep. / Some high-soaring birds when looking to eat / Find prairie dog meat a tasty treat.” Beautifully elaborate, full-color illustrations in a realistic style make The Prairie That Nature Built almost come alive in one’s hands. Readers can even take this vivid effect one step further by scanning a code on the back cover (or going to dawnpub.com/apps/prairiepopup) to enjoy a free pop-up app tied to The Prairie That Nature Built!
–Midwest Book Review – James Cox (November 2014)
Prairies are absolutely filled with life, from the worms and prairie dogs underground to the insects and birds of the air. Plants that grow toward the sun also plunge long roots deep into the dirt. Antelopes, bunnies and bison travel the land, grazing on the grasses and flowers. Foxes and coyotes emerge at night to hunt. Lightning sets the prairie grasses afire but does not harm the living roots below. All of this life is described in rhythmic repetition, with gorgeous imagery in The Prairie That Nature Built. At the end of the story is A Prairie Primer that provides fascinating and in-depth information about the animals and plants of the prairie. (Did you know that prairies are called different names in different countries, such as savannas and rangelands?) Prairie-themed games, websites and books are also listed. This is a great resource for teachers and homeschoolers! You can even download a “pop-up app” to accompany the book.
–Susan Heim on Parenting (Sept. 10, 2014)
Outstanding Book on Prairie Life for Children
The Prairie That Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki tells the story of life on the prairie. Readers can enjoy the book four different ways including as a paper book, e-book, app, and augmented reality experience.
The paper version contains the engaging nature story followed by back matter that includes additional information and activities. The nonfiction narrative includes visually interesting cross sections that reveal the world both above and below the ground. Cathy Morrison’s illustrations are beautiful as well as technically correct making this an excellent book for use in science activities.
A free pop-up app for both Apple and Android is available that uses augmented reality to provide a computer-enhanced view of the book. Tablet and smartphone users can watch their paper book “come alive” as 3D images pop-up as the book is read aloud.
The Apple and Android app provides options to “Read to Me” or “Read to Myself”. The read-aloud option highlights each word in red. Each page contains animation to enhance the experience and focus attention on different elements on the screen. The book switches between landscape and portrait layouts making it fun for readers to tilt and turn their device every few pages. The app includes a fun vocabulary matching game and a useful prairie primer with additional information.
The book is chuck-full of scientific information related to the flora and fauna native to the prairie. Use this book as a kickoff for a science project. Ask each child to select a different page to explore in depth. What are their questions? What resources could they use to explore this topic in-depth?
Librarians can download eight, free activities to go with the book at https://dawnpub.com/downloadable_activities_book/. These activities involve students in learning more about the prairie habitat and creating plaster animal tracks, bird feeders, and nature games.
–Annette Lamb, Indiana University-Department of Library and Information Science (Feb. 9, 2015)
The Prairie that Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki is another fantastic choice! Nature is full of so many miracles and things to discover, and this book helps tell the story of the beautiful prairie habitat. Whether you live in the city or country, your child will love learning about how prairies grow and flourish. In the back of the book you and your children will have fun learning more. I am always amazed at how much I learn along with my children.
A wild prairie is a lively place in this rhythmic romp with munchers and crunchers above and below the grasses so thick, and fires that flare, and rains that quench—and always the prairie grows green.
Enjoy the precious time spent reading and learning with your children this fall season!
–Your World Natural Blogspot – Cara Nitz (Oct. 24, 2014)
In The Prairie That Nature Built (Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 2014), Marybeth Lorbiecki and illustrator Cathy Morrison teach kids about a particular habitat ” the prairie ” through text following the popular nursery rhyme “This is the House That Jack Built.” Starting with creatures that “worm and squirm,” we learn about the “diggers, with tunnels so steep,” :”roots that plunge so deep,” and the “plants that shoot so high” ” all the way through insects, birds, herbivorous mammals, carnivorous mammals, fire’s effect on the landscape, rain, and ecological renewal. All this culminates in the appreciation of the prairie by a young boy and his dog. Lorbiecki presents complex ecological concepts in a fashion suitable for young readers, with charming and colorful artwork by Morrison. Whether or not your family or your students live somewhere near a prairie landscape, it’s an environment that all should learn about, especially to know about the Great Plains. Here are some sample pages (courtesy Dawn Publications) that will give you an idea of the text.
The Prairie That Nature Built also comes with a free “pop-up” app that can be downloaded (for both Apple and Android users), making reading this book an interactive adventure in itself!
–Exploring Portlands Natural Areas – Michael Barton (Sept. 5, 2014)
Inside the pages of a new book, The Prairie That Nature Built, lies a vivacious world in the prairies where nature and wildlife collude and collide (and move!). “I want children to understand how very alive and interconnected a prairie system is from the soil on up, just like the levels of a rain forest,” says author Marybeth Lorbiecki. “Too many North Americans think that prairies are dull, boring places.”
Lorbiecki refutes that misconception by sharing with children an interesting and intimate interpretation of how life on the prairie functions underground and all around, and demonstrates how Mother Nature affects these areas as well.
A key highlight to this children’s book is its illustrations, created by Colorado’s own Cathy Morrison, which come to life with augmented reality using a smartphone or tablet. Simply search “Pop-Up Prairie That Nature Built” in your app store, download the free app and point your device at the pages to see and hear the hustle and bustle in the prairie ecosystem. You can even touch the animals to watch them move.
–Colorado Country Life (November 1, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Did you know that over one fourth of the earth’s land was once covered with grasslands? In North America, they are called prairies; in Africa, savannas; in Eastern Europe and Asia, steppes; in South America, pampas; and in Australia, rangelands. This rhythmic romp, in the style of “The House that Jack Built,” tells all about the critters that squirm in the soil, the diggers, the roots, the plants, the insects, the birds, the munchers, the hunters, the lightning that sparks a fire, and the rain, all of which make the wild prairie such a lively place. Can you name some of the burrowers, grazers, and predators that you might find on the prairie? Author Marybeth Lorbiecki grew up in St. Cloud, MN, a medium-sized town near America’s Midwestern prairie.
The publisher’s summary says, “Nature on the prairie, including both wildlife and wildfire, is a rich and closely knit ecosystem, as reflected in the interlocking verses of this simple story.” In addition to the rollicking, repetitious poem which describes the multitudes of animals and plants which live on the prairie in tune with the forces of nature and thus reinforces the richness of dynamic prairie life, the back pages contain “A Prairie Primer” with further information about the prairie in general, notes concerning the different kinds of species inhabiting it, and “Prairie Fun” with suggestions for activities, related games, and resources to give a fuller appreciation of this marvelous, disappearing habitat. Anyone who likes Little House on the Prairie will enjoy this excellent means to learn more about the prairie that God built.
–Homeschool Book Review – Wayne Walker (Oct. 17, 2014)
Themes: nature, habitat, ecological relationships
“This is the prairie that nature built.” Starting with the critters that worm and squirm under the prairie, and the diggers that burrow, to the plants and insects, birds and beasts… all playing essential roles in maintaining the prairie.
What I like about this book: it’s fun to read. Everyone has a role: tunneling, rooting, providing food, hunting to keep the population in balance… every part is important to the whole. I also like the detailed illustrations, and the way Cathy Morrison uses the page. Sometimes you need to turn the book to get the full length of it all, from root to sky. I also like how, in the end, author Marybeth Lorbiecki brings the prairie home to us, as a place where a child and her dog could roam and explore.
As with all Dawn books, there is great back matter. This book ends with a “Prairie Primer” and some more detailed notes about the soil partners, grazers, flowers and other life essential to the prairie ecology. There’s a page full of Prairie Fun activities, and some resources: books, websites and more.
Beyond the book – if you live near a prairie, get out and explore! What plants, animals, and bugs can you find? Take along your nature journal so you can sketch what you see. If you don’t have a prairie nearby, see if there’s a botanical garden nearby with some prairie grasses and flowers.
Plant some prairie seeds. Even if you don’t live near a prairie, you can plant some prairie flowers in your yard – or in a paper cup. Here’s a list of some of the flowers found on prairies: larkspur, purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, goldenrod, asters, anise hyssop, blue lobelia, milk vetch… you can find prairie seed mixes here and here. Fall is a good time to plant prairie seeds if you want to turn a patch of your back yard into a habitat for birds and butterflies.
Read an interview with author Marybeth. She talks about growing up on the prairie, and her efforts to restore prairie landscape.
–Sally’s Bookshelf – Sue Heavenrich (August 21, 2014)
Usually the pictures in children’s books are just for the kids. But when reading The Prairie That Nature Built to my 14-month old daughter recently, I found myself staring at the artwork on the pages even longer than she was. That’s exactly what the artist, Cathy Morrison, wanted: illustrations that captured the spirit of the often-overlooked prairie landscape. Morrison, who has spent more than 20 years illustrating children’s books, says this particular book, which was authored by Marybeth Lorbiecki and debuted in August, was an ideal opportunity to celebrate one of the Rocky Mountain region’s most undiscovered landscapes.
The story starts little readers in the tunnels below the prairie with bugs and rodents and then explains each level of the ecosystem up to wolves and foxes on the hunt. Morrison, a resident of Livermore, a town outside of Fort Collins, lives on the very landscape The Prairie That Nature Built details. Morrison found herself seeing the wide, high elevation prairie as more than broad, waving fields of unkempt foliage. “When I read the story, I just fell in love with it,” Morrison says. “Visually, the concept came to me right away. A prairie is boring to most people. But there is a lot of life.” Morrison’s illustrations, all done digitally, create the prairie world in immaculate detail. From the glowing eyes of a stalking owl to the bristled face of an antelope, the art makes readers young and old stop and take in the intricate depictions.
The story is very personal for Morrison because after each level of life on the prairie is described, a fire engulfs the land leaving it black and charred. “In 2012, we evacuated from our home during the Hyde Park Fire” says Morrison. “The fire came within half a mile of our home, but it survived. Like this story, even after the land burned, we saw how quickly it renewed after the fire.”
Next time you’re driving through Colorado’s open prairie, Morrison says she hopes you’ll think about all the lives going on around you. “If you sit quietly and look at the grass, you don’t just see grass. There is life there and I wanted to show that.”
Bonus: The fire wasn’t the only close-to-home connection for Morrison. Look for depictions of her dog, grandchildren, and even her house on the last pages.
Get it: Snag a copy of The Prairie That Nature Built ($16.95), along with Morrison’s other new title, Dino Treasures ($17.95), at Tattered Cover bookstores.
–The Denver Magazine – Lindsey R. McKissick (Sept. 5, 2014)
“Months later- surprise! Quite out of the blue, out pop green stalks all bright and brand new, painting the ashes with color and dew. The blazing fires that blackened the reeds, fed the grounds and burst out seeds.”
Beautiful illustrations that exemplify the beauty of the prairie ecosystem abound in this new release from Dawn Publications. Playful page orientations that show both the underlying soil profiles and critters above and below along with portrait/horizon page shifts keep the young reader engaged. While rhyming and building in verse, the book serves as content reading for accurate natural history of a mixed grass prairie ecosystem including predator/prey and fire relationships. While bison, antelope and other more western prairie species are included, the interconnectedness of the prairie ecosystem is relatable to our Illinois legacy as well. Oh, and there is an App for that- A FREE app will allow the characters in The Prairie That Nature Built to pop up and move as you listen to the story being read aloud visit https://dawnpub.com/apps/prairiepopup/.
–Environmental Education Assn of Illinois Newsletter, The Update – Sarah Livesay (Sept. 25, 2014)
A prairie may look like a desolate flatland from a distance, but with The Prairie That Nature Built readers discover all the life that is teaming in the trees, grasses and below the surface. The book is written with rhyming verse so kids can enjoy reading out loud as they marvel at the illustrations. They uncover animals that burrow, some that fly, others that squirm, pollinate, graze or hunt. The impact weather patterns and fires have on the prairie and all its inhabitants are wonderfully demonstrated. The rhyme all comes together at the end with a cumulative verse.
A Well-Rounded Educational Experience
As with all Dawn books, in the back of this book is an Explore More section filled with fascinating facts. Here readers learn more details about prairies, where they can be found, how they thrive and how they are being threatened due to use for farming and building. Following that there’s a list of the different types of animals one would find on a prairie, some suggested activities, organizations that support prairie conservation and other books to read on the subject.
Vibrant Digital Illustrations with Incredible Detail and a Pop-Up App
I must confess that I used to be unimpressed with digital artwork, but Dawn books changed my mind in recent months; the detail and depth of the digital illustrations of their books is remarkable. The Prairie That Nature Built is no exception. Illustrator Cathy Morrison captures extraordinary accuracy of the animals and plants of the prairie with her illustrations, and I’d love to know how she managed to do it! You can even see the maze of plant roots beneath the surface, intricate tunnels dug by the animals and incredibly beautiful depictions of lightning and fire. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by these vibrant, realistic depictions! To make the learning experience extra special, there’s a free pop-up app for this title that will make the already spectacular images come to life.
What This Book Teaches
With illustrations as intricate as these, children can see life in a prairie they would not be able to see in person, such as animals lurking in the tall grass and thriving below the surface. Add to that the pop-up experience they can have with the free app. Children often hear about conservation, but the prairie is such a disappearing habitat in North America, that they may not learn about this important landscape without books like this. Readers will sharpen their read aloud skills and learn the rhythm of reading rhyming verse. After reading the story and studying the images, they will be eager to learn more about the significance of prairies and discover the history of this habitat upon which our country was built. Let’s educate our children about our precious earth so they can be informed about how to preserve it.
–Smart Books For Smart Kids – Debbie Glade (Sept. 17, 2014)
I love this book! It combines a child’s sense of wonder with an accurate and beautifully illustrated portrayal of the prairie ecosystem. It will help kids of all ages understand the interconnectedness of the animals and plants found on the Great Plains and make them want to go experience it for themselves!
— Jim Mason, Naturalist, Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas
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.
Author Marybeth Lorbiecki has created a rhythmic and rhyming text that shows the inter-connectedness 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.
— Vegbooks – Kristin Wald (Sept. 21, 2014)
The inner workings of the wild prairie are on display in this engaging picture book. Written as a cumulative poem, it’s a celebration of a unique habitat.
This is the prairie that nature built.
These are the critters
That worm and squirm
Alive in the dirt so dark and thick
Under the prairie that nature built.
Young readers will gaze upon prairie dogs, ferrets, and snakes hiding safely in their burrows. They’ll see plant roots stretching deep underground to hold water long after the rains have gone. And they’ll learn how flowers, insects, birds and various mammals intermingle and benefit from each other. But on the prairie, there are dangers, too. Lightning can spark a fire, setting the ground ablaze and chasing the animals away. A pounding rain quenches the fire, leaving the blackened reeds to mix with the soil. Months later, from out from the ashes a green shoot sprouts upward. Life renewed once again.
Lorbiecki’s use of rhyme, cumulative verse, and repetition will enhance the literacy skills of young readers. Dramatic text and images capture the beauty and vulnerability of this disappearing habitat. Morrison’s artwork is full of fine detail, which allows third graders to find something new with each reading. Back matter includes in-depth information on prairies, vocabulary and terminology, reading activities and additional resources. This book is also available as an interactive book app.
— Grade Reading – Sue Poduska (May 21, 2014)
Explore the Prairies that Nature Built!
This book cites inspiration from both the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Kansas and the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, but did you know there are lots of prairies that exist all over our great nation?!
What is a prairie? Prairie is the French word for meadow from the Latin pratum (same meaning). The North American prairies were created thanks to our Rocky Mountains that shielded the earth from much needed rain for vegetation (which is called ‘rain shadows’ which sounds really cool but really just means the mountains block water and kill things like trees…). However, this creates a very unique and very temperate grasslands with a very unique environmental and preservation significance in our history.
The Prairie That Nature Built is an awesome book for kids to learn about our nation’s prairies. While many nature preserves for prairies exist, they are considered disappearing habitats in our ever-expanding development in America. It is awesome for kids to see the wild prairie illustrations and learn about the different vegetation, fire issues and rains that can bring back prairies to a beautiful green! As always, Dawn Publishing offers educational material in the back of the book for additional learning. Awesome book!
Can you visit a prairie in your own state? Here in Texas, you can visit the Clymer Meadow Preserve in Hunt County, Texas!
— Mama’s Bacon – Jeanna Bellville (Sept. 4, 2014)
The Prairie that Nature Built is another great book. This story is about the North American Prairie and how much happens there from the soil on up.
When your child is ready there are activities that correspond to this book. You can choose Who am I? and Where do I live? (older children) or (younger children) and/or Prairie Plant Paradise.
This book has a free pop up app which we liked with with Mouse in the Meadow. While this is listed to be available for iTunes users and Android, it is currently only listed as ITunes. If you see it listed for Android and want to know how it works please ask.
This book is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, or kindle.
— Cheshire Cat – Jenny Cornelison (Sept. 10, 2014)
I’m not sure which we enjoyed more here, the story or the illustrations. They are both fantastic. I’ll start with the illustrations. Cathy Morrison shows layers of the prairie on each page. So you might see an insect in the dirt, a burrow being used from over and under the land, the plants that cover the earth and an owl soaring, all on one page. And each part is drawn with complete attention to detail. It’s the kind of book you read and then the kids keep it and study the pictures till they fall asleep. They story is also wonderful. It repeats and builds on itself so the kids can say some of it along with you on each page but them also be exposed to new vocab. My kids have asked for it over and over. A great read for all aged children!
–Erin Schade (Sept. 10, 2014)
The first fall release I had the pleasure of reviewing is The Prairie That Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki and illustrated by Cathy Morrison. It is best suited for children ages 4-10. This book beautifully illustrates life on a prairie: the animals, insects, plants, and more!
First off, I absolutely LOVED the illustrations in this book. Most of the books I’ve reviewed thus far have had great illustrations, but these ones are just awesome. They’re very colorful, vivid, and realistic, which I think will help engage kids in the book even more. I loved the rhyming and rhythm to this story as well. It makes for easy and fun reading. The repetition also helps children to remember what they’re learning from the book.
I have to admit, I liked The Prairie That Nature Built a lot better than another children’s book on prairies that I reviewed recently. While kids will still definitely learn something from this book, like how all of the insects, plants, etc. interrelate, it’s done so in more of a fun manner, in my opinion. In other words, kids are less likely to realize they’re “gasp” learning something. 😉 However, if you (as a parent or teacher) do want to expand upon the reading, there is a section in the back, as usual, with activity ideas and more detailed information on the critters, insects, and prairie in general.
— Mixed Bag Mama – Alicia Owen (June 6, 2014)