This is a true story for kids that explains how a lost ecosystem in Iowa was brought back to life.
At the start of the book we get introduced to Mike, who wanted to grow a prairie in an old cornfield he bought. A neighbor told him there used to be a creek there. Mike wanted to find it and got excavators to scrape the ground to where the creek bottom used to be. Before long, water seeped in and filled it up. Then he had a new problem:
“ . . . a creek isn’t just water. It’s plants, rocks, bugs, fish, and birds.”
Somehow, he had to add those elements to his creek as well, and this book tells how he accomplished this.
It took over five years, but the creek became a whole world of nature with brook trout, herons, bluebirds, frogs, and insects of all kinds. If you go there today, the author writes:
“You’d hear the water ripple and burble – maybe a chuckle – maybe a thanks – to Mike and the big machines that found the creek.”
At the end of the book, there are notes by both the author and the illustrator, and more information about Michael Osterholm, who restored the creek.
The illustrator, Claudia McGehee, visited Mike’s farm to gather images and impressions for her beautiful artwork which was made on scratchboard and then painted with watercolors and dyes. She says in her note: “I wanted to re-create the textures and colors I saw, so readers could ‘walk’ alongside Brook Creek as they learned about its restoration.”
There is an accompanying guide to further exploration, studying ecosystems, water conservation, community action, fish, and more here.
Evaluation: This book has interesting lessons to teach kids about ecosystems without being too didactic, and shows how people can and do make a difference.
Published by the University of Minnesota Press, 2017