Orphaned at the age of thirteen, Corey Nelson is sent to live in rural Central Wisconsin. Corey's foster parents, Ben and Ellen Raine, introduce him to "The Barrens," a large wildlife area near their farmhouse. The Barrens quickly becomes Corey's refuge whenever things grow difficult. This vast area of prairie grass and scrub oak serves as a link to his late father, a botany professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Fitting in at school is difficult for Corey, and a poorly timed kiss doesn't help matters. It's not cool to know more about native plants than sports, but being cool is the least of his troubles. Coming to grips with the death of his parents, uncovering Ben and Ellen's painful past, and dealing with a science teacher with an attitude, are only a few of the problems that await him.
This novel, which weaves grassland ecology around the struggles of a middle school student, can be a starting point for family and classroom explorations of the native landscapes that are just outside our door.
Also check out Riederer's Trouble in the Barrens (2002), available along with Restoration in the Barrens (1999) at Amazon and other book retailers.
www.bigbluestempress.com and Bell Museum of Natural History
Available on Amazon and other book/publication retailers.