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Buffalo Music Hardcover – May 19, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 4—A story based on the actions of Mary Ann Goodnight, a pioneer who made great strides in saving the buffalo from extinction in the late 1800s. Molly's first-person narrative offers alliterative descriptions of the sounds made by animals native to her West Texas home, including the "huff-huff" of buffalo breath and the thunder of their pounding feet. Soon, this everyday music is replaced by the noise of gunfire, as hunters slaughter the creatures for profit. When a cowhand brings her two orphan calves, Molly nurtures them and many more, developing the first captive buffalo herd. She even sends several yearlings to Yellowstone National Park to help reestablish their herd. The story ends with Molly wistfully hoping that the buffalo and their music will return to the plains. Fern's lyrical text and Castillo's folk-style artwork beautifully capture the era and events. Done in warm, earthy hues, the mixed-media illustrations depict a rugged landscape of grays and browns speckled with touches of color-wildflowers or bright blooms on a tree. Outlined in thick black lines, the characters shimmer with vitality and Molly's affection for her fuzzy-coated orphans is tenderly depicted. Buffalo Music is perfectly suited to a young audience, clearly conveying the magnitude of the decimation and the importance of conservation efforts.—Lynne Mattern, Robert Seaman School, Jericho, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Like Joseph Bruchac’s Buffalo Song (2008), this picture book is based on the life of an early conservationist who helped save the buffalo from extinction. The story is told through the fictionalized viewpoint of Molly, a character based on Mary Ann Goodnight, who remembers hearing the huge buffalo herds when she and her husband first settled in the lonely Texas Panhandle in 1876. Then the shots of hunters fill the canyon, and within six seasons, the buffalo have nearly vanished. Molly raises two orphan calves. Cowhands bring her more, and she find herself fending off wolves and poachers and caring for her charges until they become one of five foundation herds in the U.S. The mixed-media illustrations, in thick black lines filled in with colored pencil, show Molly’s hardscrabble daily life; her stubborn resistance as settlers, fences, trains, and cattle crowd in; and her nurturing of calves in a world of slaughter. Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman
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As with all of the American West, as settlers moved in, as towns were built and as normal human greed raised its ugly head, the buffalo went he way of so many things in our country; they were almost completely destroyed. The area known as the Texas Panhandle was not different. The buffalo were hunted for their hides, and later, their bones in order to make fertilizer.
This is the story of a young rancher's wife who had an affinity for wild things; loved hearing the noises of the buffalo herds as they passed and listed as she worked and did the backbreaking work common in those days off all ranch wives. Finally the day came, after only a very few short years of continual slaughter, and the buffalo were gone. A cowhand found two half starved buffalo calves and brought them to the young wife as he knew of her love for wild things.
Mrs. Goodnight raised these two calves; along with a number of others that were found and started one of the original captive herds (I believe there were only three or four in the entire country. Later, as her herd increased she sent some to Yellow Stone Park and other National Wild Life Refuges, and thereby helped reestablish this truly American animal and rescued it from complete extinction. Many of the descendants of this small herd still exist today.
The author has done a very nice job of documenting, in fictional form, the work of Molly and captured the feeling of the country and this little book is quite inspirational in nature. This makes a wonderful read for a classroom of children and opens the door for many good discussions. The writing is very well done and the art work is excellent.
This is a nice addition to any school library or child's library and I do recommend it highly.
The author's note includes websites and book suggestions for learning more about buffalo. This would make a great tie in book while learning about westward expansion.