The Buffalo Jumpby Peter Roop, Bill Farnsworth
In this dramatic tale, a Native American boy is angry when his brother is chosen over him to lead the buffalo jump, a prehistoric hunting method.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn a Native American buffalo jump, a hunter lures a herd of buffalo to follow him, rouses them to a stampede pace (he's on foot, by the way) and jumps off a cliff: while he drops safely onto a narrow ledge in the cliff wall, the buffalo plummet over his head to their deaths below. Here, a Blackfoot boy named Little Blaze wishes to lead the buffalo jump, an act of bravery that would earn him his adult name. When his older brother is chosen instead, Little Blaze is resentful, but the brother trips and Little Blaze dashes to the rescue. Farnsworth's (The Christmas Menorahs) oil paintings meticulously depict the setting of broad sun-steeped plains, and his dramatic scenes of stampeding buffalo churning up clouds of dust add suspense. Neither the family tension or the climax of the hunt is terribly gripping: by romanticizing the Native American characters, in lines like the father's "Come, my sons. The sun has shone on our tribe," Roop (coauthor of Off the Map: The Journals of Lewis and Clark) renders them wooden. Despite its weaknesses, the book keeps alive the memory of a traditional Native American practice. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)
School Library JournalGr 1-4-A story previously published in Cobblestone Magazine as "Small Deer and the Buffalo Jump" and by the Council for Indian Education as Little Blaze and the Buffalo Jump. A faster runner, Little Blaze is disappointed at his father's choice of his older brother to be the decoy that leads the buffalo over a cliff to their death. On the day of the jump, however, Curly Bear tires and eventually falls in the path of the frenzied herd, only to be rescued and joined by Little Blaze. Both boys are recognized for their bravery, and Little Blaze is renamed in honor of his deed. Montana's Madison Buffalo Jump provides the inspiration for this story focusing on the age-old hunting method. Farnsworth's oil representations depict the culture, setting, and lifestyle of the Blackfeet nation. They complement an equally well-researched text that re-creates an important part of Native American history and livelihood. An author's note explains the importance of the buffalo to the Blackfeet and offers a brief history of buffalo hunt methodology and practice as well as the processing of the various anatomical parts for specific community use. This book will provide an excellent companion to Russell Freedman's Buffalo Hunt (Holiday, 1988), Cary Ziter's The Moon of Falling Leaves (Watts, 1988; o.p.), and Nancy Van Laan's Buffalo Dance (Little, Brown, 1993). A compelling story with an engaging main character.-Celia A. Huffman, Worthington Public Library, OH
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