Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, October 6, 2023

At Home With the Prairie Dog: Story of a Keystone Species by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

At Home with the Prairie Dog: The Story of a Keystone Species 
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent; Photographs by William Muñoz
Web of Life Children’s Books. 2023

Prairie dogs live in the western area of North America. They are highly social and live in large colonies or “towns” that can span hundreds of acres. Before westward expansion of non-native Americans, there were hundreds of millions of black-tailed prairie dogs living in North America. 

Prairie dogs are called a keystone species. According to National Geographic: “keystone species is an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.”

Prolific science writer, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, shares the many ways prairie dogs benefit roughly 150 different kinds of animals that live in and around prairie dog burrows. Some species, such as the Black Widow Spider, Tiger Salamander, Plains Spadefoot Toad, live alongside the prairie dogs in their burrows. Others, Prairie Deer Mouse, Black-Footed Ferret, Cottontail Rabbit, Prairie Rattle Snake, and Burrowing Owl occupy an abandon prairie dog home. Readers will learn the many other ways 
the prairie dog enhances the lives of other species. 

Enhancing this captivating informational science book are Muñoz beautiful color photos that perfectly reflect what is being explained in the text. 

Included is a brief explanation on the importance of conserving the prairie dog. Since 1860, “90 percent of the prairie dog population has been eliminated when farms, railroads, towns, cities, and ranches took over the land.”

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