Creekfinding: A True Story

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Author) Claudia McGehee (Illustrator)

Creekfinding: A True Story
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Once upon a time a creek burbled up and tumbled across a prairie valley. It was filled with insects and brook trout that ate them, frogs that chirruped and birds watching for bugs and fish. This is a true story about a man named Mike who went looking for that creek long after it was buried under fields of corn. It is the story of how a creek can be brought back to life, and with it a whole world of nature.

In the words of award-winning author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and the enchanting illustrations by Claudia McGehee, this heartening tale of an ecosystem restored in the Driftless Area of northeast Iowa unfolds in a way that will charm and inform young readers who are drawn to a good mystery, the wonders of nature--and, of course, big earth-moving machines.

Publishers Weekly

Elaborate scratchboard etchings and a lyrical narrative tell of a creek's rebirth in northeastern Iowa. Filled with dirt to make way for farmland long ago, Brook Creek flows once again thanks to the efforts of scientist Michael Osterholm and his friends to restore a prairie ecosystem on his land. The story springs to life through Martin's (Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious) buoyant, personified language: "The excavator had found the old stream./ Would water fill the path?/ Mike said the water remembered./ It seeped in from the sides... burbled into holes, filled the creek." McGehee's (North Woods Girl) vibrant, stylized illustrations show nearly smiling fish, birds, and insects populating their new habitat. From excavation to riparian planting to fish stocking, the reclamation steps appear as section headings ("Scraping and Digging," "Time for Trout") and additional facts swirl, ribbonlike, through scenes in a tiny typeface. This hopeful tale ends with author and illustrator notes, as well as encouraging words from Osterholm: "We can restore parts of our world that have been lost or degraded," he writes. "We can change the world by acting on our dreams." Ages 4-up. (Mar.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-3--Dedicated to "those who take care of our green places," this true account of how native Iowan Michael Osterholm "found" and restored a lost creek teaches children about ecosystems, problem-solving, and determination. When a neighbor told Osterholm that he once caught a brook trout in Osterholm's newly acquired cornfield, a dream was born. ("Mike knew there must have been a creek on that prairie. He wanted to find the creek, make a place for brook trout, birds, bugs, and frogs.... Others laughed, said Mike's plan was foolishness. Lost is lost.") With a little help from his friends and some heavy machines, he located the bottom of the creek and cleared its path. But Osterholm's dream required both hard work and patience--he planted grass and green shoots on the banks and waited three summers for them to grow. Gradually plants grew, and insects and small fish appeared. Finally, it was time to introduce the trout. McGehee traveled to the actual site to witness the water and wildlife firsthand before producing her stunning illustrations. ("I wanted to re-create the textures and colors I saw, so readers could 'walk' alongside Brook Creek as they learned about its restoration.") The text is broken up with chapter headings, such as "Trout in a Cornfield" and "Fish Squiggles," and small, italicized sidebars in blades of grass or streams of water provide additional information.

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The main narrative reads smoothly aloud, and the pictures, though detailed, should show well to a small group. Author's and illustrator's notes and a comment from the actual creek rescuer complete the package. A heartening story of environmental restoration."—Kirkus Reviews

"A heartening picture book that celebrates the thoughtful restoration of a prairie."—Booklist

"A delightful picture book."—Cabin Living Magazine

"The story springs to life through Martin's (Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious) buoyant, personified language. McGehee's (North Woods Girl) vibrant, stylized illustrations show nearly smiling fish, birds, and insects populating their new environment."—Publishers Weekly

"Chronicling the true story of one man's quest to revive a stream rumored to have run through the prairies of Iowa, Jacqueline Briggs Martin relates the trials and triumphs in Creekfinding, a return to nature that proves that 'a creek isn't just water.'"—Foreword Reviews

"Eloquent narrative nonfiction to inspire the future caretakers of our planet."—School Library Journal

"Reading this story aloud to my three children has already inspired change in our local ecosystem."—Wellesley Magazine

"Creekfinding is a beautiful rendering of this inspiring true story of environmentalism in action."—Little Village

"Creekfinding will have young readers thinking how they can find and support their own wilderness in the places they live."—Children's Compass Chronicle

"A great book to share with curious children."—Kids and Eggs

"A lovely and inspiring new children's book."—The Gazette

"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."—Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

"With patience and passion, the process paid off, in this environmentally engaging story of hope and the tenacity of spirit displayed by those who care about the Earth - their commitment restores our planet to its natural beauty. How grateful we are for their contributions."—The Missourian

"Readers of all ages will appreciate the sequence of events in restoring the creek and the anecdotal comments about frogs, and the life cycle of Brook Trout."—Oneora Reading Journal

Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Jacqueline Briggs Martin's many children's books include Snowflake Bentley, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious, a School Library Journal starred review book. She grew up on a farm in Maine and now lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Eric-Shabazz Larkin made his illustration debut with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table in 2013 and his author-illustrator debut with A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food in 2014. Both were named ALA Notable Books. He lives in New York City.

Will Allen is a farmer and founder and CEO of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is recognized as a preeminent practitioner of urban agriculture in America and throughout the world. A former basketball star, he was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 2008 and Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date
March 20, 2017

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!