Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux


My father cuts a moon-counting stick that he keeps in our tipi.
At the rising of the first moon he makes a notch in it.
"A new beginning for the young buffalo,"
he says.
"And for us."

In this beautifully written story by acclaimed author Eve Bunting, a young boy comes of age under the thirteen moons of the Sioux year. With each notch in his ...

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My father cuts a moon-counting stick that he keeps in our tipi.
At the rising of the first moon he makes a notch in it.
"A new beginning for the young buffalo,"
he says.
"And for us."

In this beautifully written story by acclaimed author Eve Bunting, a young boy comes of age under the thirteen moons of the Sioux year. With each notch in his father's moon-counting stick, the boy marvels at the world around him, observing the sometimes subtle, sometimes remarkable changes in the seasons and in his own tribe's way of living. With rich and carefully researched paintings by artist John Sandford, Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux is a glorious picture book about one boy's journey toward manhood.

A young Dakota Indian boy describes the changes that come both in nature and in the life of his people with each new moon of the Sioux year.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sue Reichard
Fans of Eve Bunting's books will not be disappointed with this beautiful story. A young Sioux boy comes of age under the thirteen moons of the Sioux year. The young boy's father notches his counting stick with the passing of each season as the tribe marks these occasions in their traditional ways. The full page illustrations enhance the beauty of this Native American story.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3The 13 moons of the Sioux year are marked by notches on a "moonstick," by descriptive names "Moon of the Thunderstorms," "Cherry-Ripening Moon", and here by Bunting's poetic evocations of the seasons. The narrator is an unnamed boy, for whom the moons mark the time that must pass before he can hunt, dance, and wear snowshoes like his father and older brothers. Although the father observes philosophically that "life cannot be without sadness," for buffalo or for Sioux, pictures and text depict an idyllic wilderness existence, sans war, famine, or disease. In a style reminiscent of Impressionism, a muted, earth-tone palette, and varied viewpoints, Sandford shows his subjects' lives and activities. Travois, tipi, and parfleche no words are defined appear; dress and decoration are carefully delineated as the speaker celebrates the activities and ideas proper to each month. The two final spreads are unexpected. "Many winters have passed," notes the speaker, who is now old: he lives in town and does not hunt. The pictures show farms, roads, telephone lines, and tractorswithin the man's lifetime, an utter revolution. So mind-stretching is the sudden change that it may strike only adult readers. No matter, this is a lovely, elegiac book, a romantic paean to a vanished existence.Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Kirkus Reviews
Bunting (The Pumpkin Fair, p. 947, etc.) turns a sensitive eye to Sioux culture, depicting it truthfully and realistically while incorporating into the book a heartening message to any child whose ancestral ways have passed (even temporarily) into obscurity. The father of the first-person narrator notches a moon-counting stick at the beginning of each of the 13 moons of the Sioux year, a way to mark the passing of the year. Sandford's appealing, unsentimental illustrations link the notches to the passing seasons, from the Moon of the Birth of Calves, through the Cherry-Ripening Moon when the men take part in the Sun Dance, and the Sore-Eyes Moon when snow so dazzles the narrator that his father reassures him that "changes come and will come again. It is so arranged." Soon it is time for a new moonstick, but, in a brief page, readers understand that many moonsticks have come and gone: The child is grown, his culture passed away, and the narrator's livelihood comes from the sale of his wife's beadwork and his own headdresses—"We do not hunt." That's the poignant clincher, so it's a relief that the narrator takes his small grandson to cut a stick, to pass on his father's wisdom, to note that changes will come again. Expertly and beautifully told.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064436199
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Series: Trophy Picture Bks.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 345,940
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Eve Bunting was born in Ireland and came to California with her husband and three children. She is one of the most acclaimed and versatile children's book authors, with more than two hundred novels and picture books to her credit. Among her honors are many state awards, the Kerlan Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Regina Medal, the Mystery Writers of America and the Western Writers of America awards, and a PEN International Special Achievement award for her contribution to children's literature. In 2002, Ms. Bunting was chosen to be Irish-American Woman of the Year by the Irish-American Heritage Committee of New York.

John Sandford, illustrator of Moonstick, The Seasons of the Sioux by Eve Bunting, studied drawing, painting, and illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan. In His Own Words...

"I was born in Hannibal, Missouri, where we lived at the top of Hill Street in an old house that creaked with the adventures of five children and our parents. We later moved to Pontiac, Illinois, and filled a house with books, noise, crackpot ideas, and ill-tempered cats.

"I first heard stories at the family dinner table, but I was never quite clear about which were fact and which were fiction. I found more stories in the family library, some made vivid with illustration: N. C. Wyeth's robust Boy's King Arthur, Mead Schaeffer's painterly Three Musketeers, Maxfield Parrish's Arabian Nights, Robert Lawson's Rabbit Hill, and the curious drawings by Maud and Miska Petersham for The Rootabaga Stories."

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