From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6–They promise to pay me thirteen dollars a month. More money than that I never saw at once. This poetic narrative evokes the emotion of emancipation and the courage and endurance of a newly freed man who joins the U.S. Army, protecting new settlements from Indians and bandits while earning a living, an education, and the respect of his country. He worries about family left at home and takes pride in a paycheck, finding a new life but facing loneliness in a life lived apart from loved ones. …Sally says she hopes my fingers freeze off so I can't sign up for five more years. Paired with watercolor illustrations, each spread echoes the daily life of a buffalo soldier. This brief story both informs and pulls at the heartstrings of readers as the retired man compares his experiences to those of his son fighting in World War II, while readers view the shadow of his former comrades riding past his porch rocker.–Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX
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Using the perspective of a fictional recruit, Garland recounts the history of the two African American cavalry regiments that served the U.S. from 1866 through 1953. Nicknamed "buffalo soldiers" by the Cheyenne Indians because of their curly hair and bravery, the men protected settlers on the western frontier, marched up San Juan Hill in 1898, and continued to serve until the military was integrated at the end of the Korean War. Garland's mythical enlistee sees the regiment as a means to earn a steady income, obtain an education, and gain respect, despite adversity on and off the battlefield. Himler's vibrant illustrations capture the broad vistas of western landscape, the excitement of horseback pursuit, and the hardships of the work, at the same time conveying respect for the loyal soldiers who endured it all. An author's note provides more about these soldiers and their contributions, making this an excellent introduction to a sometimes-overlooked part of American history. Kay WeismanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved