Out on the Prairie & Deep in the Swamp. DVD. 15 min. with tchr’s. guide. Nutmeg Media. 2012. ISBN 1-933938-92-7. $69.95.
PreS-Gr 3–Donna Bateman’s clever juxtaposition of two very different but fragile ecosystems is just right for young children. Using the construct of counting and a repetitive refrain in the style of “Over in the Meadow,” students will learn about animals and plants native to each habitat in an engaging, user-friendly way. “Wallow,” said the mother. “I wallow!” said the one, as the bison calf rolls in the prairie grass; and “Scurry,” said the mother. “We scurry!” said the ten, as the little crayfish scatter through the swamp. Each group of ten animals resides in the BadlandsNational Parkin South Dakota (Out on the Prairie, 2012) or the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgiaand Florida (Deep in the Swamp, 2007, both Charlesbridge). The vibrant illustrations by Susan Swan (Prairie) and Brian Lies (Swamp) perfectly delineate the flora and fauna native to these areas, and the narration by Tony Fragale and Melissa Kate Miller make the books come alive. The artwork and minimal music let the rhyming text sing. Fascinating flora and fauna facts are presented at the end of each section, and one gets a feel for the delicate balance between them. Re-counting the animal babies serves as a review of their names, while comparing and contrasting the two ecosystems is a natural classroom follow-up activity. Children and teachers will be inspired to visit and see the prairie’s yucca and primrose and the swamp’s cattails and cypress trees for themselves. It’s that good.–Lonna Pierce, MacArthur andThomasJeffersonElementary School,Binghamton,NY