One North Star is a delightful book that pleasantly exceeded my expectations. The illustrations by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen are beautiful and engaging; and Phyllis Root manages to pack a great deal of information into lyrical prose.
I first sat down to read the book with my math-loving preschooler, assuming he would enjoy any counting book. However, within a couple pages, my first-grader was wedged in by us, playing along as we read. By the end, I had three of them engaged (ages 4-11).
This is the kind of book that can be read repeatedly but with a different focus each time. It can be read as:
- A counting book — Each page counts a little higher.
- A search and find — Your children (and you) may not know what all the plants and animals are, but using the clues, can you find them?;
- It can be sung — You’ll have to make up your own tune until some enterprising musician posts one on YouTube, but it feels like it was written to be lyrics to a song; or
- A nature book — Both the artwork and the end pages are likely to teach you a little bit about Minnesota ecosystems.
Age Recommendations for One North Star
This book is recommended for ages 4-7. I would say that is definitely the ideal ages. However, it is primarily a picture book and the lyrical feel of the text makes it appropriate cuddle material for my 2-year-old. While the younger kids will enjoy the interactive ways of reading this book, I’d be unlikely to read the last pages with them. In those pages Ms. Root goes into more details about Minnesota habitats. However, my 11-year-old had thoughtful questions after we read the book. I was able to answer her questions from that information. Then, because it engaged her, she took the book away from me and curled up on the couch to read more.
Twin Cities Family Fun with One North Star
Because of the Minnesota settings, this book pairs well with family outings. Each page highlights a different habitat found in our state. It introduces the reader to wildlife and plants found within Minnesota. This combines well with various parks and nature centers we’ve visited. This fact made dialogue easy and natural as we read.
“Remember when we saw the beaver pond at Springbrook Nature Center? What other animals on this page do you remember from that hike? We should get back there soon.”
Immediately after reading the book, we decided to take a walk around the block so we could check out our neighbor’s milkweed and see if any of the pods had burst. We also agreed we were overdue for a moonwalk and would take one soon to try to find the North Star.
One North Star Details and Purchasing Information
This is one of those books that I highly recommend adding to your collection. But don’t take my word, grab it from your library first and see if you don’t agree with me.
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Illustrated by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen
University of Minnesota Press | 36 pages | August 2016
Family Fun Twin Cities received a free copy of this book to facilitate our review. Opinions are our own.