Dance in a Buffalo Skull

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
This book is the second of the "Prairie Tale" series, which began with The Discontented Gopher. The prairie mice have found an abandoned buffalo skull in which to hold their feast and to dance. The little fire makes the skull glow while they party and keeps away the coyotes. As the mice celebrate long into the night, one curious and hungry stalker is not frightened away. His yellow eyes peer through the empty sockets of the skull, and the mice scatter into the darkness, safely away from the cat. This tale was first translated into English in 1901 by Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, known now by her Lakota name, Zitkala-Sa, who first published a collection called Old Indian Legends in 1901. S.D. Nelson, whose illustrations include "Crazy Horse's Vision" and "Jim Thorpe's Bright Path," is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The storyline is only one or two sentences per page, with white text on a richly colored background of full-bleed illustrations that include mice in paint and regalia. The book includes a word list and bibliography. I found it difficult to read out loud, with unusual line breaks and the small white text on the dark backgrounds, but that might be due to this reviewer's old age showing through. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2- Zitkala-A a recorded this Yankton Sioux story more than 100 years ago, but this tale of mice caught unaware is still satisfyingly scary. Out on the deep, dark prairie, a large group of mice is having a wild party inside an old buffalo skull. The small creatures, in festive paint and costume, are dancing, singing, and eating with abandon, and they have neglected to put anyone on security detail. Out of the dark emptiness stalks a wildcat that waits until the height of the music to suddenly appear, abruptly ending the festivities. This story was created to remind Yankton Sioux children to keep an eye out at all times, and it still does that. Zitkala-A a is a wonderful storyteller-even with some old-fashioned language, the narrative tension builds deliciously to the scene of the fleeing mice. Nelson's illustrations add to the tension between the creeping wildcat and the celebrating mice. Even the dark is a character here-children will almost need to squint through the shadows to see the animals at night. In the pictures of the party, by contrast, the glowing light and excited mice seem to vibrate with action. This tale would be perfect in a scary storytime, told with the lights down low.-Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977795529
  • Publisher: South Dakota State Hist Society
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Series: Prairie Tales Ser.
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 796,109
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.79 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Dance In A Buffalo SkullĀ is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's

    Dance In A Buffalo Skull is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling Author and; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

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