The Prairie That Nature Built: Extraordinary Artwork and a Pop-Up App


Cover image courtesy of Dawn Publications

The Prairie That Nature Built

•    Targeted Audience: Preschool, Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 4-10)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction
•    Author: Marybeth Lorbiecki
•    Illustrator: Cathy Morrison
•    Publisher:Dawn Publications
•    Publication Date: September 1, 2014
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 9″ x  11″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 32 Pages
•    Retail: $8.95
•    ISBN:978-1584694915

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Life on the Prairie in Cumulative Rhyme

A prairie may look like a desolate flatland from a distance, but with The Prairie That Nature Built readers discover all the life that is teaming in the trees, grasses and below the surface. The book is written with rhyming verse so kids can enjoy reading out loud as they marvel at the illustrations. They uncover animals that burrow, some that fly, others that squirm,  pollinate, graze or hunt. The impact weather patterns and fires have on the prairie and all its inhabitants are wonderfully demonstrated. The rhyme all comes together at the end with a cumulative verse.


© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Dawn Publications

A Well-Rounded Educational Experience

As with all Dawn books, in the back of this book is an Explore More section filled with fascinating facts. Here readers learn more details about prairies, where they can be found, how they thrive and how they are being threatened due to use for farming and building. Following that there’s a list of the different types of animals one would find on a prairie, some suggested activities, organizations that support prairie conservation and other books to read on the subject.


© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Dawn Publications

Vibrant Digital Illustrations with Incredible Detail and a Pop-Up App

I must confess that I used to be unimpressed with digital artwork, but Dawn books changed my mind in recent months; the detail and depth of the digital illustrations of their books is remarkable.  The Prairie That Nature Built is no exception. Illustrator Cathy Morrison captures extraordinary accuracy of the animals and plants of the prairie with her illustrations, and I’d love to know how she managed to do it! You can even see the maze of plant roots beneath the surface, intricate tunnels dug by the animals and incredibly beautiful depictions of lightning and fire. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by these vibrant, realistic depictions! To make the learning experience extra special, there’s a free pop-up app for this title that will make the already spectacular images come to life.


© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Dawn Publications

What This Book Teaches

With illustrations as intricate as these, children can see life in a prairie they would not be able to see in person, such as animals lurking in the tall grass and thriving below the surface. Add to that the pop-up experience they can have with the free app. 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. Readers will sharpen their read aloud skills and learn the rhythm of reading rhyming verse. After reading the story and studying the images, they will be eager to learn more about the significance of prairies and discover the history of this habitat upon which our country was built. Let’s educate our children about our precious earth so they can be informed about how to preserve it.


© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Dawn Publications

Children’s Books that Shape the Future

As a parent of a grad student at The University of Colorado at Boulder, working toward a PhD in geomorphology (the study of landforms, like rivers and glaciers, and the processes that shape them), I know how vital books like these can be to get kids interested in science. The Prairie That Nature Built is a great way to inspire many a reader to pursue an interest in the earth and even perhaps a future in a scientific field. There’s a shortage of earth scientists, and we must do all we can to change that.

About the Author

Lorbiecki-MarybethMarybeth Lorbiecki grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, near a prairie, before she knew it was called a prairie. Instead it was simply her favorite place for exploring and hiding amid the tall grasses. She would always be spotted by meadowlarks, who saluted her with song. That prairie was built over with homes, and she no longer found her friends the larks there any more. When Marybeth moved to Hudson, Wisconsin, she became part of a group that taught the community about the amazing prairie that nature built. She brought her daughters and son to wander through the prairie grasses. Together they helped preserve prairies nearby so the meadowlarks would have a place to nest and sing. She’s written more than twenty-five books for kids, many of them about the places, plants, and animals she loves, including the prairie dog!

About the Illustrator

Cathy Morrison is an award-winning illustrator who lives on a shortgrass prairie in Colorado, at the western edge of Morrison-Cathythe Great Plains in view of the Rocky Mountain National Forest. She watches the grasses, the animals and their burrows, as well as floods and fire—all close up and personal. She began her career in animation and graphic design, but discovered her passion for children’s book illustration while raising her two children. After several years illustrating with traditional media, she now works digitally, which helps the publisher adapt the art into interactive book apps.

Further Learning

  1. Download the activities that come with this book.
  2. Visit the Dawn Pub App Page to get your free pop-up app for this title.
  3. Learn more about prairies from the State of Minnesota.
  4. Visit Dawn Publications to discover many more excellent educational titles for young readers.

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