Out on the Prairie
Donna M. Bateman, author
Donna M. Bateman is the author of Deep in the Swamp, winner of the Southern Independent Book Alliance Award. She lives in Bridgeton, Missouri.
Read more about Donna.
Susan Swan, illustrator
Susan Swan has illustrated many children’s books, including A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey and It’s Fall. She lives in Ovilla, Texas.
Read more about Susan Swan.
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year, 2013
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Traditionally patterned verses celebrate the flora, fauna and wide sky of the mixed-grass prairie of Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
“Out on the prairie where the snakeroot greets the sun, / Lived a shaggy mother bison and her little calf One.” As she did in Deep in the Swamp (2007), Bateman has chosen representative features and creatures to introduce a remarkable ecosystem. Counting from one to 10, she goes on to include pronghorns, meadowlarks, prairie dogs, grasshoppers, grouse, owls, rattlesnakes, coyotes and toads in a series of verses that also span the day from dawn to night. The poetry is not sacrificed to the information; she pays careful attention to language and rhythm, using splendid verbs. It reads aloud smoothly. Swan’s energetic cut-paper, mixed-media illustrations delight and instruct. She includes found objects and hand-painted paper, collaged and digitally combined on double-page spreads that blend into a spatter-paint frame in the story section. Plants and animals are identifiable in the pictures and described further in the backmatter, 10 pages of “Prairie Flora and Fauna Facts.” This describes the animals’ child-bearing and -rearing habits, offers further information about the plants, and defines the term “prairie.”
Another outstanding appreciation of the natural world for young readers and listeners both.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Adapting the rhyme "Over in the Meadow," Bateman takes readers on a trip to Badlands National Park in South Dakota, highlighting 10 animals that make their homes there. Swan's showstopping collages have a three-dimensional quality that makes the prairie come alive a brightly marbled grasshopper stares out at readers, while "a mother meadowlark and her little chicks Three" cluster on photographs of actual branches amid sweeping newsprint grasses. An informative appendix (also illustrated) provides further details about bison, howdy owls, grama grasses, and more. All in all, it's a delightful introduction to a unique and beautiful ecosystem.
School Library Journal, starred review
Using the traditional rhyme scheme of "Over in the Meadow," this book does its predecessor proud, and then some. Children will encounter possibly unfamiliar flora and fauna (yucca and grama grasses, howdy owls and pronghorns) in this beautiful exploration of a prairie. "Out on the prairie where the wispy clouds soar,/Lived a mother prairie dog and her little pups Four." A different native animal is showcased in each lavish spread. Swan's illustrations are unique and quite astounding; made using collages of digitally scanned objects, found objects, and hand-painted papers, they are vibrant and have an almost 3-D quality to them. The grasshoppers seem to be jumping off the pages to spectacular effect. Back matter includes an extensive section, "Prairie Flora and Fauna Facts." This book would be a great choice for any prairie ecosystem lesson, and it would make a sweet habitat storytime paired with Christopher Gunson's Over on the Farm (Scholastic, 1997) and Marianne Berkes's Over in the Ocean (Dawn, 2004).
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Page count: 32
9 x 9