Title: Buffalo Song
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Illustrator: Bill Farnsworth
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.9
Concepts: human resources, natural resources, scarcity
Review: A confused, hungry, and frightened buffalo calf has lost her mother and the rest of her herd to white hunters. Rescued by two members of the Nez Perce tribe who happened to pass by and find her, she is taken to a small refuge for buffalo orphans started and run by Walking Cayote and his wife Mary. They nurse the calf back to health, and along with several other buffalo orphans, make the dangerous journey across a large mountain pass in order to deliver the buffalo to a larger sanctuary and pasture for grazing. The orphans ultimately wind up at the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana where, together with other buffalo that Walking Cayote and other like-minded individuals rescued, they prosper and grow into a herd of about seven hundred.
Based on actual events, this powerful story describes the successful efforts of Walking Cayote and Mary to help stop the endangerment of the buffalo. Walking Cayote and Mary share an undeniable bond with the buffalo they adopt, and they transform this compassion and respect for the animals into a courageous and long-term agenda to rescue them from extinction. Teachers and parents can use the book to teach valuable lessons in economics related to scarcity and natural resources. With stunning illustrations and text that draws on meticulous research, this book is a treasure.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children