Here are the complete reviews of At Home with the Beaver:

Booklist starred review:

At Home with the Beaver: The Story of a Keystone Species.

By Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Illus. by Michael Runtz

Aug. 2019. Web of Life, $17.95 (9781970039009). K–Gr. 3. 599.37

By cutting down trees to make a dam across a creek, a pair of beavers create a pond. In its center, they build their lodge, a home where they can raise their young. Meanwhile, the beavers’ two construction projects have changed their environment, creating a new network of small and large organisms within the pond and beyond it, where water seeps through the soil to support grasses and other plants that now have more sunlight, since the beavers have felled a number of trees. Because of its enormous impact in forming and supporting a diverse ecosystem, the beaver is known as a keystone species. A zoologist who has written many fine science books for children, Patent explains the concept clearly, presents an overview of the pond, and introduces some of the wildlife in and around it. Whether showing a broad view of the pond or focusing on a particular bird, Runtz’s color photos illustrate the text well. With a sense of immediacy and crisp clarity, each picture invites viewers to look closely at the animals and their surroundings. An enlightening companion book to Madeline Dunphy’s At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of aKeystone Species (2010) and an informative addition to library collections.

— Carolyn Phelan

Midwest Book Review:

At Home with the Beaver: The Story of a Keystone Species is a nonfiction children’s picturebook about much more than beavers. At Home with the Beaver examines how the beaver’s dam creates a pond habitat that a multitude of other plants and animals depend on for survival, especially those that need still water instead of rapidly flowing water. From frogs to ducks to plants, fish, snakes, and even fierce predators, all sorts of different living things are connected through the “keystone”, dam-building beaver. Captivating, full-color photography of wildlife in its natural habitat distinguishes this treasure for school and public library picturebook collections.


Up-close and personal with a critically essential wetlands animal. Beavers are known as a “keystone species” because the dams they build from logs, sticks, and mud create ecosystems—ponds—that provide habitats and sustenance for a vast variety of life forms that dwell in and around the ponds, including plants, insects, fish, snakes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other mammals. These sturdy rodents’ gifts keep on giving even beyond the ponds: Pond water irrigates surrounding vegetation, and the spaces left by trees beavers cut down with their strong, sharp teeth allow for more sunlight to pour down on the greenery. How important are beavers? This biodiversity likely wouldn’t exist without their hard labor. The author offers up these and other fascinating facts in clear, pithy, accessible prose, expressed in a conversational tone, including the tidbit that other animals may help themselves to beavers’ own lodges—sometimes even when the beavers are still living in them. The well-written, economic text, presented on the recto of double-page spreads, is handsomely supported by excellent, high-quality color photos on facing pages; these feature close-ups of some of the plants and wildlife that inhabit a pond and its idyllic surrounding landscape. A fine browse for young animal lovers and a good, basic choice for report writers. (author’s note, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

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