Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky
In this lovely intergenerational story, Grandfather Buffalo is slowing down and can’t keep up with the herd, so he lags behind. He comes across a pregnant bison who has also fallen behind the herd. The two travel together and Grandfather Buffalo is there when she gives birth to a male calf. Shortly after the calf’s birth, the three are caught in a dust storm and the calf is separated from his mother, but Grandfather Buffalo is there to keep the calf safe. Following the storm, the old bison rests. He awakens to find the calf napping by his side. This book is so sweet and touching – a tender story about bonds between young and old. Grandfather Buffalo is treated with great respect in the book and is seen as an important part of the herd still, so the book teaches a valuable lesson about respect for elders. Though the story is not really accurate regarding the behavior of bison, as females and males normally live apart except during mating season and it is not likely that a bull would be caring for a calf, young children will be touched by the relationship between the old and the young. Children can make connections between the grandfather bison and the calf and themselves and grandparents or other older adults in their lives. Arnosky’s watercolor illustrations are beautiful and realistic, depicting the beauty and majesty of the western prairie and the animals that inhabit it. In addition to the illustrations of the bison, we see various birds, including songbirds, owls, and whooping cranes, butterflies, prairie dogs, antelope, rattlesnakes, cattle, and skunks. I also recommend other titles by Arnosky, which also depict the natural world in a respectful and beautiful way.