Buffalo Music

by Tracey E. Fern

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  • A Junior Library Guild Premier Selection
  • American Library Association 2009 Notable Children's Book
  • Children's Book Examiner Best Picture Book of 2008
  • School Library Journal Best Book of 2008 Selection
  • Winner of the 2008 June Franklin Naylor Award for the Best Book for Children on Texas History
  • The NY Examiner's 35 best picture books of 2008
  • A Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Selection
  • 2009-2010 Alabama Camellia Children's Choice Book Award Nominee
  • 2009-2010 West Virginia Children's Choice Book Award Nominee
  • 2009-2010 Georgia Picture Storybook Award Nominee

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.
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.
— Kirkus, starred review
Fern’s lyrical text and Castillo’s folk-style artwork beautifully capture the era and events . . . perfectly suited to a young audience, clearly conveying the magnitude of the decimation and the importance of conservation efforts.
— School Library Journal, starred review
The mixed-media illustrations, in thick black lines filled in with colored pencil, show Molly’s hardscrabble daily life; her stubborn resistance as settlers, fences, trains, and cattle crowd in; and her nurturing of calves in a world of slaughter.
— Booklist