Holiday Signing: “The Lost Forest” by Phyllis Root
The story of a forest “lost” by a surveying error—and all the flora and fauna to be found there
A forest, of course, doesn’t need a map to know where to grow. But people need a map to find it. And in 1882 when surveyors set out to map a part of Minnesota, they got confused, or tired and cold (it was November), and somehow mapped a great swath of ancient trees as a lake. For more than seventy-five years, the mistake stayed on the map, and the forest remained safe from logging—no lumber baron expects to find timber in a lake, after all.
The Lost Forest tells the story of this lucky error and of the 144 acres of old-growth red and white pine it preserved. With gentle humor, Phyllis Root introduces readers to the men at their daunting task, trekking across Minnesota, measuring and marking the vast land into townships and sections and quarters. She takes us deep into a stand of virgin pine, one of the last and largest in the state, where U.S. history and natural history meet. With the help of Betsy Bowen’s finely observed and beautiful illustrations, she shows us all the life that can be found in the Lost Forest.
Accompanying the story is a wealth of information about the Cadastral Survey and about the plants and animals that inhabit forests—making the book a valuable guide for readers who might want to look even deeper into the history of Minnesota, the flora and fauna of old-growth forests, and the apportioning of land in America.
Phyllis Root is the author of more than forty books, including Creak! Said the Bed and Lily and the Pirates, both named in Smithsonian’s 2010 Notable Books for Children; Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble, winner of a Minnesota Book Award; Big Momma Makes the World, winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award; and, published by Minnesota, Plant a Pocket of Prairie and One North Star, both winners of the John Burroughs Riverby Award, and Searching for Minnesota’s Native Wildflowers. She was awarded a 2006 McKnight Fellowship for Lucia and the Light. She has taught at the Loft and currently teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program