I am often inspired when I read or hear true stories about people who have done things to make the world a better place. They don't have to be world famous people, and the things they do don't have to have a huge international impact either. The fact that they have taken the step to do something that is bigger than themselves is enough to make me feel hopeful.
Today's picture book tells the story of a man who chose to bring back a creek that had been lost, and in so doing he brought back a rich ecosystem as well.
Creekfinding: A True Story
Jaqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Claudia McGehee
Nonfiction Picture book
For ages 5 to 7
University of Minnesota Press, 2017, 978-0-8166-9802-8
Many years ago a spring “burbled out of the ground and tumbled itself across a prairie valley” and it became a creek. The water was home to fish, insects, frogs, birds, and many other creatures. Then the creek was lost because a farmer used a bulldozer to fill it in with earth so that he could plant big fields of corn. Instead of running through a creek bed, the water from the spring flowed through a ditch and it no longer offered animals and plants a habitat where they can thrive.
Many years after the creek was lost, a man named Mike bought the field. He wanted to replace the cornfield with a prairie once more. A neighbor told him that many years ago he had caught a brook trout that was swimming in a creek that ran right through the cornfield. Mike wanted to bring the creek and the brook trout back, but when he told people about his plan they thought it was “foolishness.”
Using an old photograph, Mike figured out the creek’s path and then he called some friends who had excavating machines. For days the machines “carved holes, dug curves and runs, tamped rocks for the creek bottom.” It was a beginning, but there was still a lot of work to be done and no one knew if the water from the spring would find its old path. A lot of things had to happen before brook trout would be able to swim in the creek again.
All too often when a habitat is lost due to farming or development it stays lost. Thankfully for Brook Creek, Mike Osterholm cared enough about it to restore it to its former glory. The restoration process took years to complete, and Mike had no way of knowing if his plan would succeed. However, he did not let this stop him from trying, and he worked hard to make his dream come true.
We all need to hear stories like this one; true stories about people who have brought about change and made the world a better place through their actions. Hearing such stories lifts us up, and we are encouraged to do what we can to make our part of the world more beautiful.
Throughout the book the author’s narrative is supplemented by little snippets of information that help us to better understand creek ecology and Mike’s restoration process. The story is brought to life by the gorgeous, colorful and textured art created by Claudia McGehee. To help her create her art she visited Brook Creek in person so that she could see its vitality and richness for herself before she put pencil to paper.