FERN, Tracey E. Buffalo Music. illus. by Lauren Castillo. 32p. CIP. Clarion. 2008. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-618-72341-6. LC 2007018435.
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