Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
It is a sad and frightening day when the Taking Man insists that ten-year-old Young Bull must leave his home and family on the Cheyenne Reservation and spend most of the year at a faraway boarding school, learning the white man's ways. Young Bull is very homesick at the harsh, regimented school and tries to run away back to his home. He is unsuccessful, but he learns that he can be "Cheyenne again" in his art and memories. The author does a good job of presenting this difficult situation in a picture book format. A brief Afterword gives some background information on this part of American history. The realistic, watercolor illustrations by a Navajo artist, who had a similar school experience, complement the text well.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A poignant look at the pain inflicted upon one child by a dominant culture's heavy-handed attempt to ``help.'' Near the turn of the century, a Cheyenne boy, Young Bull, is forced to attend the off-reservation Indian school so that he can learn to become a part of the white world. He is housed in soulless barracks and shown repeatedly and quite blatantly that the Indian ways are no good. When he rebels and tries to run home in a snowstorm, he is caught, returned, and shackled for a day. The story, told from Young Bull's point of view, is not so much judgmental as empathetic-none of the authority figures is an ogre. The agents for change here are not white bureaucrats, but Indians who have adopted white ways, and Young Bull clearly feels betrayed by them. Toddy's acrylic and oil paintings add to the emotions expressed in the narrative. The openness, light, color, and individuality of the boy's home surroundings are in sharp contrast to the formality, emptiness, and uniformity of the school. Young Bull's struggle to hold onto his heritage will touch children's sense of justice and lead to some interesting discussions and perhaps further research.-Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL