Buffalo Music

Buffalo Music

by Tracey Fern, Lauren Castillo
     
 

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When Molly first settled in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas in the late 1800s, millions of buffalo roamed the land. Molly lived and worked to their music. She stirred the fire to the huff-huff of buffalo breath clouding the chill dawn, swept the dugout to the thunder of hooves. Then different sounds filled the air—the boom and blast of rifles. Before long, the buffalo… See more details below

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Overview

When Molly first settled in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas in the late 1800s, millions of buffalo roamed the land. Molly lived and worked to their music. She stirred the fire to the huff-huff of buffalo breath clouding the chill dawn, swept the dugout to the thunder of hooves. Then different sounds filled the air—the boom and blast of rifles. Before long, the buffalo were gone. But Molly, as stubborn as the buffalo themselves, found a way to save the species. She adopted and raised orphaned calves, and gradually grew her own herd. Some were sent to Yellowstone National Park, where their descendants still roam today; others stayed in the canyon, where Molly could once again hear the music of the clatter of clashing horns, the bellowing of bulls, and the muffled thud of hooves. An evocative story of determination,conservation, and the ability of one person to make a difference.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Hazel Buys
The speed with which hunters on the frontier of the American west nearly wiped out the buffalo is a black mark in the story of our push toward the Pacific coast. We are redeemed by the quiet determination of people like Mary Ann Goodnight. Her story is told through the character of Molly, a pioneer who settled with her husband on the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas in 1876. When they arrived, huge buffalo herds still thundered across the prairie. Within a few years almost all had been slaughtered. Molly tells her story with rich language replete with metaphors and expressions that evoke the early frontier and the hard working people who settled the west. She bears witness to the huge number of buffalo whose life-sounds were music to her, surrounding her and comforting her through the lonely days and long winters. When the herds disappear, the silence is oppressive. Then a cowhand, who knows Molly to have a way with animals and a soft place in her heart for lost critters, brings two abandoned buffalo calves to her. Word of her skill at nursing the calves spreads and more are brought to her doorstep. They form the basis of a herd and she soon has over one hundred buffalo. When Yellowstone National Park seeks to rebuild its buffalo herd, she sends four head. With similar gifts, Molly helped to rebuild herds in Oklahoma and Montana. This book documents a sad passage in American history redeemed by the spirit and determination of individuals who understood the importance of preserving the buffalo herds. The illustrations and muted colors evoke the tumbleweed rawness of the prairie and the isolation and self-reliance essential to life on the prairie. This book would be a good resourcein a study of pioneer life and the history of buffalo herds for an elementary school classroom or library. Reviewer: Hazel Buys
School Library Journal

K-Gr 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

Kirkus Reviews
When Molly first settled in West Texas, she did her chores to "buffalo music," the noises made by massive herds of buffalo grazing nearby. Soon, however, buffalo hunters arrived to slaughter the animals they thought would last forever. "Forever came fast." In six years the buffalo were gone. Molly's grief over their loss abates when a fellow settler brings her two orphaned buffalo calves to raise. They thrive and word spreads: Soon Molly's herd numbers 100. When Yellowstone National Park decides to rebuild its herd, some of Molly's buffalo become founding members. Molly's story, though fictional, is based on the real life of pioneer Mary Ann Goodnight, whose homebred buffalo eventually populated not only Yellowstone but other wildlife refuges and several zoos. Fern's debut is auspicious. Her homespun expressions ("fending off wolves and poachers with the long end of my rifle") allow Molly's straightforward sentiment to shine. Castillo's smudgy illustrations recall Glen Rounds and invest both Molly and the buffalo calves with enormous personality. Together they make this story one with widespread appeal. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618723416
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/19/2008
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
608,818
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.44(d)
Lexile:
NC860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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