Books for Young People
The Prairie That Nature Built
illustrated by Cathy Morrison
Dawn Publications, September 1, 2014
Ages: 4 to 10
Format: 32 pages—fully illustrated—9 by 11
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-58469-492-2
Hardcover: ISBN 978-1-58469-491-5
Curriculum Components: Prairie Habitat • Interdependence • Life Cycles
Click to order from the publisher.
Download free activities based on this book.
A wild prairie is a lively place in this rhythmic romp with munchers and crunchers above and below the grasses so thick, and fires that flare, and rains that quench—and always the prairie grows green. Back matter offers information and activities for a fuller appreciation of this marvelous, disappearing habitat.
Awards and Recognition
2014 Mom's Choice Gold Medal Award Winner for Animal/Nature Books
2015 Family Choice Award
“Vibrant and dynamic two-page spreads burst with life, exuberance, and authenticity in this gorgeous overview of a prairie ecosystem. The vivid word choice of the verse—constructed with deft use of repetition and rhyme—is loaded with rich imagery. That this beautiful book manages to be simple and complex simultaneously is extraordinary.”
"A cumulative rhyme describes the components of a prairie from soil partners, roots and pollinators through plants, grazers and predators to the sky-high lightning that brings revitalizing fire... The writing is lively and suggestive, ... While the text will read aloud nicely, the images are worth the careful attention a child reading alone can give them. . . . A vivid introduction to a vital habitat." (read the complete review)
“... in the end, author Marybeth Lorbiecki brings the prairie home to us, as a place where a child and her dog could roam and explore.” (read the complete review)
“Author Marybeth Lorbiecki has created a rhythmic and rhyming text that shows the interconnectedness of the smallest worm to prairie dogs to rabbits to buffalo. She builds the story of the prairie to show the ecosystem’s beauty as well as its reality.” (read the complete review)
“This is a great resource for teachers and homeschoolers!” (read the complete review)
"Children often hear about conservation, but the prairie is such a disappearing habitat in North America, that they may not learn about this important landscape without books like this. ... Let’s educate our children about our precious earth so they can be informed about how to preserve it." (read the complete review)
Read more reviews.
From the publisher's website, the stories behind the story:
"Marybeth Lorbiecki’s new book, The Prairie That Nature Built, stems from a childhood love for the open spaces nearby. We are pleased to offer her lovely, autobiographical essay, first published in Stories from Where We Live: The Great North American Prairie (Milkweed Editions, 2001).
Marybeth Lorbieck   'I have a kindred spirit bird. A golden throated, lyrical songster. It’s not something I ever looked for, or expected. It just kind of happened.
  'I grew up in a city in the waistband of Minnesota, flat country that boasted granite under the belt and fertile fields as its everyday dress.'"
(Read more.)

"We are happy to feature Cathy Morrison—illustrator of The Prairie That Nature Built—in her own words.
Cathy Morrison   'My Grandmother Maud understood me. She knew I loved to draw. In fact I can’t remember a time when I was not drawing. Grandma never batted an eye when I said that I wanted to be an artist.'"
(Read more.)
The Prairie that Nature Built
Click on any of the images below to get a look inside the book.
Prairie image 1
Prairie image 2
Prairie Image 3
Prairie Image 4
Watch your book “magically” become 3D!
App image
A FREE app will allow the characters in The Prairie That Nature Built to pop up and move as you listen to the story being read aloud. Scan the code on the cover and download the app and learn how to use it with your book.
Escaping Titanic: 
A Young Girl’s True Story of Survival

Picture Window Books, 2012
ISBN 1404871438

Just in time for the anniversary of the 100th year of the Titanic disaster comes this real life story of twelve-year-old Ruth Becker, who was aboard the ship on its voyage and who just barely escaped the sinking. Come with her on the excitement of being part of the first voyage of this luxury ship and then experience what happened that night when it hit the iceberg.


Escaping the Titanic

Things Natural, Wild, and Free: 
The Life of Aldo Leopold

Fulcrum Books, 2011
grades 4 to young adult,
ISBN 978-1-55591-474-5

Adventure—as a child Aldo Leopold was always looking for it as he wandered over the bluffs along the Mississippi with his dog, Spud. This led Leopold to become a forester, wildlife scientist, author, and one of the most important conservationists in history. This book features historic black and white photographs, a timeline, resource and activity sections, a time line, and a bibliography. 


Things Natural, Wild, and Free

Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart
illustrated by Renee Graef
Sleeping Bear Press, 2007

That giant of a lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, has finally met his match in the tall and lovely Lucette Diana Kensack of Hackensack. But can Paul win her love? She gives him three tasks to see if he is worthy—Paul does his best, to comical results. Will she take him?

Teaching Guide

Here's a peek at Renee Graef's wonderful art!

Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart by Renee Graef

Bank Street College's Best Children's Books of the Year List 2008


Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart

Jackie's Bat
illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006
ages 4 and up
ISBN 978-0-689-84102-6

Joey is the Brooklyn Dodger's bat boy. It's his first season, and he finds out that it’s Jackie Robinson's first season too. Joey doesn't want to serve a black man, but what Joey learns in this exciting baseball season of 1947 he'll remember all his life. Approved by Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow.

Teaching Guide

Storytellers World Award for 2006; Manhattan Country School "Living the Dream" Award 2008


Jackie's Bat

Planet Patrol: a Kids' Action Guide to Earth Care
Two-Can Children's Publishing, 2005
hardcover ISBN 978-1-58728-514-1
paperback ISBN 978-1-58728-518-9

This guide combines ecological concepts with fun facts, examples of what kids are doing worldwide, and action tips. Illustrated with cartoons and photos.

Teaching Guide


Planet Patrol

Sister Anne's Hands
illustrated by K. Wendy Popp
ages 4 and up
Dial Books (Penguin Putnam) 1998
ISBN 978-0-8037-2038-1
soft-cover edition, Puffin Books (Penguin Putnam), 2000
ISBN 978-0-14-056534-8

Sister Anne, an inspiring and fun second grade teacher, faces racism as an African American in her Midwest classroom. The story of how she turns the situation around is told through the eyes of one of her white students who is transformed by the experience.

Teaching Guide

Storyteller World's Award 1999; International Reading Association Best Books of the Year 1999 (starred); Bank Street College Children's Book of the Year; New York Public Library Notable Trade Book for Young People 1999 in Social Studies, in Literary Arts; Living the Dream Award 2000, Manhattan Country School


Sister Anne's Hands

John Muir & Stickeen:
an Icy Adventure with a No-Good Dog

co-authored with Julie Dunlap
illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
NorthWord Press, 2004
ages 4 and up
ISBN 978-1-55971-903-2

The famous nature-lover John Muir loves glaciers but he doesn't like pets—then he ends up on an Alaskan adventure with a mutt named Stickeen. Stickeen proves to be even more stubborn than Muir! Will they both make it back to camp alive? This story is based on first-hand accounts, with quotations from Muir’s journals sprinkled throughout.

The Teachers Choice Award 2005 from Learners Magazine


John Muir and Stickeen

Prairie Dogs
illustrated by Wayne Ford
NorthWord Press, 2004
ages 4 to 8
ISBN 978-1-55971-883-7

Learn about these fascinating, town-building burrowers of the prairies.

  Prairie Dogs
Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute
coauthored with Julie Dunlap
illustrated by Mary Azarian
Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Putnam, 2002
ages 5 and up
ISBN 978-0-8037-2470-9

Young Louisa May Alcott is so wild a child her parents don't know what to do. Her father tries to use writing to help tame her spirit. But Louy seems to make more ink blots than words. Then she begins going on field trips with other neighborhood children guided by her sister's teacher, Henry David Thoreau. In the woods and on the river, Louisa learns from Mr. Thoreau about the magic in nature and the enchantment of words, especially one's own. In the end, she writes her first poem. A book for lovers of writing and lovers of nature.

Parents Choice Award 2002; Adult /Children's Bestsellers' List, Boston Globe, Junior Literary Guild


Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute

Stories from Where We Live:
The Great North American Prairie Anthology
edited by Sara St. Antoine
illustrated by Trudy Nicholson
Milkweed Editions, 2001
ages 9 and up
ISBN 978-1-57131-630-1

This award-winning series helps kids (and adults) connect with the bio region they live in through stories, poems, memoirs, letters, and essays written about the area. Each title serves as an excellent sourcebook for combining natural history and imagination in developing intimacy with a place. The prairie title includes works by greats, such as Cather, Sandberg, Erdrich, Least Heat Moon, and others, as well as Lorbiecki's essay "Prairie Spirits on the Wing." It tells the story of Lorbiecki's relationship with her kindred spirit bird, the meadowlark.

The series has been the ABA Kids' Pick of the Lists and Notable Social Studies Trade Books


Stories From Where We Live

Painting the Dakota:
Seth Eastman at Fort Snelling

illustrated with paintings by Seth Eastman
Afton Historical Society Press, 2000
ages 11 and up
ISBN 978-1-890434-32-8

Seth Eastman came to the Minnesota Territory as an army officer in the 1830s and again in the 1840s, while the lands still belonged to the eastern Dakota or Santee Sioux. With the eye of an artist, Eastman captured the beauty and details of their everyday lives. The middle section of the book moves through the Dakota seasons of the year illustrated by Eastman's eyewitness paintings.

Best of Show, Midwest Independent Publisher Assoc.; Benjamin Franklin Award, Publishers Marketing Assoc.; Independent Publishers Book Award


Painting the Dakota

Children of Vietnam
photographs by Paul Rome
Carolrhoda (Lerner Publications), 1997
ages 8 and up
ISBN 978-1-57505-034-8

This photo essay focuses on contemporary children around the country of Vietnam. The book travels from north to south, covering history, culture, natural history, and day-to-day life.

1998 Notable Trade Book for Young People in Social Studies


Children of Vietnam

My Palace of Leaves in Sarajevo
illustrated by Herbert Tauss
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Putnam), 1997
ages 8 to 12
ISBN 978-0-8037-2033-6
(presently out of print)

Nadja, a nine-year-old girl who lives in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, tells her story through letters to a distant cousin in Minnesota. Sensitively shows the horrors and hopes of people living in a war zone.

1998 Children's Literature Choice List; Japanese rights sold


My Palace of Leaves in Sarajevo

Just One Flick of a Finger
illustrated by David Diaz
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Putnam), 1996
ages 7 and up
ISBN 978-0-8037-1949-1
(presently out of print)

A boy who is bullied brings a gun to school to protect himself and finds the situation turns bad—told in a rap ballad style.

1997 Children's Choice; 1996 Pick of the Lists by American Library Association, the New York Public Library, and The Chicago Tribune


Just One Flick of a Finger

Of Things Natural, Wild, and Free: 
The Story of Aldo Leopold

illustrated by Kerry Maguire
Carolrhoda (Lerner Publications), 1993
ages 8 to 12
ISBN 978-0-87614-797-9 

A children's biography of the internationally renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold.

1993 John Burroughs Nature Book; Distinguished Service to History Award, State Historical Society of Wisconsin


Specialty Titles
(Shapes series)
illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
Abdo & Daughters, 2007
ages 4 to 8
ISBN 978-1602700437

The Shapes illustrated nonfiction books provide first lessons on common shapes. Rhyming text and creative illustrations draw attention to circles are found in the world around us.



(Shapes series)
illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
Abdo & Daughters, 2007
ages 4 to 8
ISBN 978-1602700437

The Shapes illustrated nonfiction books provide first lessons on common shapes. Rhyming text and creative illustrations draw attention to where triangles are found in the world around us.



(North American Dinosaurs) 
Rourke Publishing, 2007
ages 9 to 12
ISBN 978-1600442537

Welcome to Grand Teton National Park 
(Visitor Guides)
Child's World, 2006
ages 9 to 12
ISBN 978-1592966981

  Welcome to Grand Teton National Park
Friends O'Mania: 
A Teen's Guide to Making Friends

Jitters: A Story about Making Friends

Friendship Frenzy and Other Fun Poems

I'm Somebody, Who Are You? 
A Social Game for Making New Friends

You're There: 
A Teen's Guide to Going Places

On My Way, Today: 
A Story about Making Friends

On the Move GROOVE and Other Fun Poems

Mystery Explorers: A Social Game for Finding Your Way

Designed by David Bradley
photographs by Jim Gallop
That's Life Literature Series
AbleNet Inc., 2004

This groundbreaking new soft-cover series is targeted for secondary special-education students. The books feature vibrant low-level text and sidebars with skill concepts and photographs of high school students of different abilities. Each title comes in a themed sets (of four books a piece) aimed at developing life skills. The text and design are so lively, colorful, and contemporary that the books can also be used with students in junior high and elementary grades.



copyright © 2008-2016 Marybeth Lorbiecki. Privacy policy. All rights reserved.
Please request permission before using text or images on this site. Photo of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala by Jules Hermes