Muskrat Will Be Swimming, by Cheryl Savageau, illustrated by Robert Hynes, is one of those classic old school picture books from the 1990’s. It has more words per page than most picture books have per book these days. But I found this story to be a perfect blend of fiction, Native American heritage, and natural science.
A muskrat is similar to a beaver, in that it is a water mammal that lives in marsh and lake habitats. While there is extensive information on muskrats at the back of the book, and there are internet links to information for teachers wishing to find out how to teach about this story, the basis of the book is not science about muskrats. Rather it is about a girl who is in love with her home near a lake where nature is still wild and muskrats are busily leading their lives. Yet, even as she appreciates the wilderness surrounding her home, she struggles with her experiences at school, where the other kids make fun of her and what they think of as a gross place to live.
With the help of her Grandpa and a Native American legend, the girl learns to find confidence in her place in the natural world.
The highlight of the book for me is the beautifully, and scientifically accurate, depictions of the lake environment and creatures. Robert Hynes’ artwork is meticulous and brings depth and life to this story. I’m a sucker for nature art, and this book is a perfect one to pull me in.
It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)