CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 19 . . . . May 23, 2003
first chapter introduces the reader to the main character in this
book, Angelique, who is 10-years-old in 1865. Her family is Métis
and lives near Batoche in Saskatchewan. A brief biography is provided
of Angelique and her family. An important focus of the family and
the community is the buffalo hunt which provides many items for their
personal use and, as well, many items to trade. For the first time,
Angelique will have a specific job to do as she joins the older children
who follow the horsemen on foot. She will look for the marker which
her father has thrown down to indicate which of the buffalo he has
killed. Angelique is both excited and nervous as the hunt begins.
Cora Taylor has included details about the characters which add a sense of realism to the plot. One of the other children, Marie Letendre, has to join the children looking for markers because she is now the oldest in her family. Her brother had died during the winter when he had fallen through the ice. Francois is one of her oldest friends and has also joined the older children. He resents the idea that Angelique will also be in the group. The other boys also resent the girls but will be sent back to camp if they act on their feelings. Not only is it the first hunt for Angelique but also for Michif. She hopes that they both do well.
Michif proves himself to be a great buffalo horse, and Angelique’s father kills a cow on the first day. Angelique is disappointed when she has to help her mother rather than stay with the boys and watch for wolves. The process of preparing the buffalo is told in some detail which adds authenticity to the plot. Marie's father is injured when his horse steps into a hole, and the seriousness of the hunt is brought home to Angelique. She has had a dream about a buffalo that falls dead at her feet, and she now worries that this means that someone will die in the hunt.
When Angelique and her brother wander out on the prairie to collect chips for the fire, she is in danger from a bull. Her father sees the situation and rescues her. In the attempt, Michif is injured, and Angelique is heartbroken. She talks to the medicine woman and finds out about some spruce tree gum used as salve. If it works on people, she reasons it may help Michif. She remembers seeing some trees and goes out to the prairie. It works, and Michif is returned to health without a limp. Angelique is sure that he will be the best buffalo runner in the fall hunt. She is also encouraged when her father tells her that she has the "touch" in healing.
The plot is simple and very appropriate for the intended audience. The characters are realistic but not overly complex. The historical component is authentic and interesting. Language is appropriate for the readers in the target age group. This novel is a good addition to any school or public library. Many readers would enjoy the entire series and will wait for the next volume. This volume and the entire series is highly recommended.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian and a Grade 12 English teacher at W.P. Sandin Composite High School, a grade 5 to 12 school in Shellbrook, SK.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.