Mary Pope Osborne is a prominent contemporary children’s book author, best-known for her Magic tree house series. She creates an imaginary world in which the books in the magic tree house literally transport her child protagonists, Jack and Annie, to other times and places. Osborne’s books are written simply so that young readers can follow a story that engages them, as they learn about diverse cultures, history and science. In Buffalo before breakfast (1999), the eighteenth book in the Magic tree house series, Jack and Annie travel to a Lakota camp on the Great Plains of North America in the 1800s, before the arrival of white prospectors, settlers and soldiers. By recreating the life of a traditional Lakota camp, Osborne gives readers a version of Native American history that has been silenced and marginalised. This article will examine her representation of Lakota history, culture and spirituality in Osborne’s Buffalo before breakfast, and cite research to support the story she tells.
Grade 2-4-In this companion to Afternoon on the Amazon (Random, 1995), Jack and Annie encourage readers to undertake their own research related to the rain forest, and that is excellent advice. With the number of full-color, larger-format titles available on the topic, it is hard to justify sticking with the brief introduction and small, black-and-white photos this book offers. Drawings of the children appear somewhere on almost every page, and perhaps their die-hard fans will slog along to keep them in view. However, the book doesn't even provide detailed information on some plants and animals that play an important role in the fictional adventure. For example, the frightening vampire bats and piranhas the children encounter are barely mentioned. The mango, which is the item they need to bring back from their adventure, isn't even included in this title. Tips for research and lists of books, museums, videos, and Web sites could be useful, but it's hard to recommend purchasing a resource that lacks the attributes necessary to do its own subject justice.
Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
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