Candy Moulton: Reading the West 8-13-12
August 22, 2012
First-time author Jamie Anne Blake has hit one out of the park in her wonderfully illustrated children's book "The Adventures of Buffalo Joe and The Blackbird With The Broken Wing." Buffalo Joe is a bison living in Grand Teton National Park and Ebony is a blackbird living there as well. The bird's wing makes it difficult to fly even though Ebony practices and practices.
In this tale for young children (either those being read to by a parent or other older readers or those who are just learning to read), the buffalo and the blackbird become pals who enjoy their wanderings around Jackson Hole.
Buffalo Joe is the best kind of friend — one who provides encouragement and aid to a friend needing both. Ebony, meantime, struggles and works hard to achieve the goal of being able to fly.
It takes another animal to set Ebony aflutter but I won't give it away here.
The strong storyline is complemented by the bright artwork also created by Jamie Anne Blake. Her artistic style is a great depiction of these animal pals and the place they live. The story is not only set in Grand Teton National Park, but also at the Moulton Ranch Cabins (owned by the author's in-laws). I have a connection there, too, and recognize the setting, even if I've never seen Ebony and I'm not certain which one of the large herd of buffalo usually roaming nearby might be the model for Buffalo Joe. Highly recommended.
In a book definitely for the adults, William Jensen turns to the real events of the Mormon conflict in northeastern Missouri in the 1830s. "Adder in the Path" does a good job of putting the reader into the era that pitted the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the old settlers of Missouri.
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The author portrays such individuals important in the early years of the Church, like Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and particularly Orrin Porter Rockwell, quite clearly. And the historical context of the Mormon conflict is also well-done.
Young Jake Devine is hunting with his dog Rufe as the story opens, and we quickly meet his abusive father and downtrodden mother. But then the story shifts to Jenny Evans, her father John, a teacher, and her mother, Agnes, who has become a Mormon fanatic. The Evans family follows the Mormon faith to Kirkland, Ohio, and ultimately to northern Missouri, where they are involved in the significant events of the conflict there in the 1830s.
Although I liked the history for the most part, one frustration with this storyline is that Jake Devine and his family disappear from the book for more than a hundred pages. By the time they are back in the story and Jake meets Jenny Evans, it is hard to recall who he is. But Jensen keeps the story moving along at a fairly rapid clip, and while there are some plot flaws, and a few historical inaccuracies, the book held my interest on a recent rainy (believe it or not!) Saturday. ❖