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One Day in the Prairie


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About the Author

Jean Craighead George wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her other books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Everglades; Arctic Son; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Galapagos George.


Gr 4-6 As in her two previous books in this series, One Day in the Desert (1983) and One Day in the Alpine Tundra (1984, both Crowell) , George takes an ecological community, adds a child, and comes up with a story both factually accurate and exciting to read. Henry spends a day at a southwestern Oklahoma wildlife refuge to try to photograph a prairie dog doing a backflip (a warning signal to its kin). He doesn't know that a tornado is forming on the horizon, but the nearby buffalo herd senses its approach. With her usual skill, George describes the plants, the animals, and the insects of the prairie and their behavior as the storm approaches. Black-and-white pencil drawings expand the text and bring out the threat of the coming tornado. There is a bibliography of titles on more specific aspects of the prairie ecosystem and a short index. George provides a brief but intense and detailed look at the North American prairie, equally suitable for a homework assignment or for browsing. With the recent popularity of books on the history of the prairie, it is good to balance them with a look at its ecology and natural history. Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library

At dawn, the electricity in the air warns buffalo of an impending storm. An eagle flies overhead; a prairie dog back flips to warn other prairie dogs about the eagle. Henry, camera in hand, wants to photograph the wildlife. Before the day is out, he will have survived a tornado that has killed animals and plants. That is life on the prairie, as related by Newbery Medalist George. Her lucid explanations of the ways the animals read signals and prepare for a storm are a primer in natural science; she chooses information with care, and maintains a simple storyline. Marstall's pictures add drama to a book that's perhaps not as immediately interesting as George's One Day in the Alpine Tundra and One Day in the Desert, perhaps because prairies are more familiar landscapes. Yet readers will newly understand the fragility and interrelationship of life forms. (9-12)

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