Wednesday, November 26, 2014

30 Days of Diverse Picture Books - Buffalo Song by Joseph Bruchac

It's Day 25 of our 30 Days of Diverse Picture Books. Tonight's Thanksgiving Eve, and there's a lot of excitement in our house thanks to a four-day break from work and school. I don't know about you, but these days I feel more pressure and more busy-ness every day - it's exceedingly wonderful to know we have a few days to rest, relax, enjoy one another's company.

Tonight's pick is Joseph Bruchac's Buffalo Song, a title that honors the Native peoples of our land, and commemorates the work they did to rebuild the great buffalo herds that once called North America home. It's important to note that Bruchac is himself Abenaki, which makes him a cultural insider and therefore capable of avoiding all the stereotypes that so frequently surround depictions of Native Americans in children's books. Bruchac's title is one I've been anxious to share, not only because it comes highly recommended by sources I trust, but also because it's sensitive and thoughtfully written.

Expect some questions with Buffalo Song -- after all, in the opening pages, a young calf is orphaned by white hunters who kill her mother and herd. But the story, ultimately, is one of hope and honor, as it tells of Salish tribal member Walking Coyote and his wife Mary, who among others gave much of themselves to foster the then-declining buffalo population in the late 1800s. Bruchac examines the obstacles Walking Coyote faced, and doesn't gloss over the difficulties, which makes this a great title for discussing how we as individuals can remain committed to a vision and follow it through to an ending that really can change the world.

Buffalo Song carries a message that I think we all really need to hear right now. And that it celebrates Native peoples makes it an essential title for any diverse collection.

Buffalo Song by Joseph Bruchac, published by Lee & Low

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