One North Star, A Counting Book
by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen
University of Minnesota Press, 2016
One North Star is ever so much more than a ‘counting’ book. Its wood carvings and rich color illustrations pulled me into this wonderful poetic recounting that explores Minnesota’s North Star country. We begin in the forest, move into bluffs, marshes, rivers, bogs, and prairies to cover the many terrains. And in each, we are introduced to animals, birds, insects, and plants found there. So much to explore. Yet it is a counting book and in each terrain we enjoy identifying and counting as we learn more about each item featured. Each page, rich in details, is a beauty to feast upon; one can almost breathe in the smells of each terrain. Fortunately, the book includes a directory of each terrain and each item mentioned, as well as how to find the North Star.
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Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005
Caldecott Medal Winner
When I picked up Song of the Water Boatman, I knew I had something special. The exquisite art lured me in with its intriguing perspectives of a common, yet unknown world. Then I discovered it wasn’t a story, it was a book of poetry about pond animals and insects. I was fascinated. Where was this taking me? The first page was an open page with no words, featuring the pond. I turned the page again for the first poem. Its first stanza had me.
Listen for Me
Listen for me on a spring night,
on a wet night,
on a rainy night.
Listen for me on a still night,
for in the night, I sing.
Each tightly-written poem and detailed illustration introduced me to a new pond creature. Then, to expand my experience, a short paragraph was written on each creature capturing its unique qualities. I felt grateful to receive a brief education of this wonderful creature I just learned about. I discovered wood ducks in Spring Splashdown, and greedy diving beetles, or “water tigers”, fierce hunters of the pond. Each page-turn had an up-close illustration of a new creature. For awhile, I went to another world, learning how pond creatures live. Some pages I had to study carefully to fully understand each creature. Then, as the illustrator brought me into the book, the illustrator led me away. I sat with a new understanding of ponds swirling within me. I could not move. I actually began to tear up. The whole experience was breath-taking. Sometimes I wonder why certain Caldecott Medal winners are chosen, but this one I understood. Illustrator Beckie Prange is a printmaker and naturalist with a graduate certificate in natural science illustration. This book is perfect for any child to expand their experience of the world.
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