Prairie Dog Song
Saving North America’s Grasslands
(2016) Lee & Low Books
by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
collages by Susan L. Roth


"Following their Sibert Award-winning Parrots Over Puerto Rico, Roth and Trumbore turn to prairie dogs. Each double-page spread includes a collage, a verse from a cumulative song based on "And the Green Grass Grew All Around," and text detailing the evolving history and ecological significance of prairie dogs in North America. The clever layout makes this a book that can grow with its readers. For little ones, the large-print words of the song can be used along with the amazing artwork; older readers can move on to the highly informative, engaging narrative. The song teaches succinctly about the biodiversity of the prairie habitat before farmers and ranchers, the near-extinction of the entire habitat, and the return to biodiversity once the importance of the prairie dogs was recognized. In flowing, conversational language, the text for older readers includes such subjects as 19th-century, government-sanctioned prairie dog poisoning and how, in 1988, the prairie dog was finally recognized as a keystone species—one on which an entire ecosystem depends. The ongoing tale is uplifting, as individual people, organizations, and, finally, the government of Mexico have helped to bring back both the prairie dog and the prairie. [T]he entire book is a worthy work of science-and-arts integration. An inspiration."
-starred review, Kirkus Reviews

"Roth and Trumbore, the team behind Parrots Over Puerto Rico and The Mangrove Tree, adapt the song “And the Green Grass Grew All Around” in an inspiring environmental comeback story. Early spreads introduce the prairie dogs, owls, bison, and eagles that made their home in the prairies of northern Mexico, until ranchers and farmers turned the grasslands to desert (“And over time/ Mesquite moved in,/ With the longest roots/ That you ever did see”). As locals attempt to restore the grasslands, supplemental paragraphs offer extensive information about the process and animals (as does a substantial afterword). Roth’s meticulously crafted collages create sweeping, gorgeously detailed panoramas of a delicate landscape in flux."
-starred review, Publishers Weekly

"The North American prairie, a balanced ecosystem of prairie dogs and other animals and plants, thrived for thousands of years. Yet within 60 years of the arrival of farmers and ranchers, it was almost destroyed. The discovery of a remnant prairie in the late 1980s enabled the reintroduction of the black-tailed prairie dog and created an environmental recovery celebrated here in verses sung to the tune of ?The Green Grass Grew All Around.? The song is printed in black above informative paragraphs in a smaller orange font that almost fades into the background. Beautiful double-page collages illustrate the prairie dogs, their predators, and the species that benefit from their burrows. These detailed visuals invite readers to linger over the pages and search through myriad multicolored blades of prairie grass. Color photographs accompany a one-page list of facts, a multiple-page time line, an extensive glossary and pronunciation guide, and a list of the authors? sources. VERDICT This heartening success story is entertaining to sing along to and a valuable, beautiful resource."
-starred review, School Library Journal