by Beverly Brodsky

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"A powerful tribute to a majestic animal!"

The Buffalo was a way of life for the Indians of the Great Plains. It provided the tribes with food, fuel, and clothing - all their basic needs. The first Americans celebrated the buffalo's sacred spirit with ceremonies, prayers, and songs. The buffalo taught that all living things, including humans, are equal in


"A powerful tribute to a majestic animal!"

The Buffalo was a way of life for the Indians of the Great Plains. It provided the tribes with food, fuel, and clothing - all their basic needs. The first Americans celebrated the buffalo's sacred spirit with ceremonies, prayers, and songs. The buffalo taught that all living things, including humans, are equal in the natural world.

The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers; he belongs just as the buffalo belonged....

- Oglala Sioux chief

Beverly Brodsky's watercolors and oil paintings accompany tribal song-poems woven into a narrative history about the buffalo's essential and sacred role on the Plains. Her book is a powerful tribute to a majestic animal, tracing the history of the buffalo from the beginning of time to present day.

Beverly Brodsky reveived a Caldecott Honour for her earlier work, the Golem. Her magnificent paintings and text in Buffalo have also reveived many awards, including:

  • ASPCA Henry R. Bergh Children's Book Honor Winner, 2004
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004
  • Best Children's Books of the Year (Outstanding Merit)

    --Bank Street College, 2004

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A stunning, sophisticated collection of art works and collected Native American song-poems. . . Beverly Brodsky's oil and water color paintings evoke the mystery and majesty of the revered buffalo, holy to many First Americans."

-- Midwest Book Review

Publishers Weekly
In Buffalo, Beverly Brodsky's impressionistic, evocative watercolors and oil paintings highlight her narration of the many roles of this sacred animal in the lives of the Plains Indians. The straightforward text includes song-poems such as this excerpt from a Pawnee song: "Clouds of dust arise, rolling up from earth,/ Spreading onward; Herds are there./ Speeding on before,/ Going straight where we must journey." Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Brodsky blends a wealth of information about the buffalo with a selection of Native American song-poems about them in her text. Facing across the double pages or in vignettes and a double-page spread are her paintings inspired, as she tells us, by many textual and visual influences. The text traces the history of the buffalo in America as well as describing the importance of the animals to the lives of various native groups. "The poems and songs of Native Americans ensure that the spirit of the buffalo will live on into eternity." The illustrations, produced with watercolors and oil paints, are steeped in personal imagery. Even the end papers with their mottled, amorphous suggestions of ancient cave paintings convey the spiritual genesis. Some pictures approach naturalism, but most derive their impact from the artist's painterly abstractions, shapes that attack our emotions more than our intellect. They accompany rather than directly illustrate the words. The jacket image with its penetrating gaze helps prepare us for the deep emotional experiences inside. A personal note from Brodsky about her inspiration, a list of sources, and an index are included. 2003, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 8 up.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Brodsky's evocative paintings about the buffalo are inspired in part by Native American art, song, and poems about the animals. She offers small chunks of factual information about the importance of the buffalo to the Plains Indians through their history, lives, and culture. She then notes the near disappearance of the animals with the arrival of the European settlers. Throughout, her reverence for both the buffalo and the Native American culture is clear. Her illustrations include native artifacts of the time, though the majority of the pictures are impressionistic and more expressive of her spiritual involvement with her subjects. They command us to stop turning the pages in order to be confronted by potent symbols, historic icons from a significant part of our nation's past. Although barely representational, the paintings exploit color to powerfully stir emotions rather than intellect; we almost hear the hunters' chants and the roar of the galloping bison. There is a list of sources along with a note on the background of the book.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-More like a gallery catalog than a children's book, this title serves mostly to exhibit Brodsky's paintings, none of which are likely to hold much appeal for young people. Facing each full-page abstract or impressionistic watercolor, oil, charcoal, or gouache painting is a paragraph of text (dry, and in tiny print) about Native Americans and buffalo, and one transcribed and cited Native American song about these creatures. While the historical relationship of Native Americans with the buffalo is explored in an esoteric, scholarly manner, the focus here is the art. Students will find Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith's Buffalo Days (1997), Russell Freedman's Buffalo Hunt (1988, both Holiday), and Ken Robbins's Thunder on the Plains (Atheneum, 2001) more informative, more understandable, and more satisfying.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Brodsky (The Story of Job, 1986, etc.) has made a magnificent re-entry into the world of picture books with this historical look at the plight of the buffalo as related to the Native American experience. Museum-quality watercolors and oil paintings are breathtakingly stunning. Particularly dramatic is "Countless Millions," a watercolor spanning two pages-a dramatic depiction of the millions of buffalo that were hunted to near extinction. The author's first-rate text simultaneously relates the history of the demise of the western buffalo herds, presents tribal song-poems, and factual notes about the use of the song-poems and their relationships to the history of the buffalo and Native American customs. With this multi-layered perspective of the buffalo Brodsky has managed to create an exceptional work that is both informational and aesthetically grand-a must purchase for all libraries. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8+)

Product Details

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 9.50(h) x (d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Beverly Brodsky's paintings have been exhibited internationally including Sotheby's in New York after she won the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 2000. Beverly has illustrated a number of children's books, among them The Golem, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor. Besides painting and illustrating, she has lectured at Harvard University, the Brooklyn Museum, and the University of California at Berkeley. Currently she lives in New York City and teaches at Parsons School of Design.

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