Monday, November 4, 2019

Review - My Bison

My Bison
by Gaya Wisniewski
Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

In a clearing by the forest, a little girl befriends a bison. Each winter they meet, sit by the fire, and share stories or simply enjoy the silence together until it is time for the bison to rejoin his herd in the spring. Their bond deepens as they grow older and the years go by, but one winter her bison does not return. After searching for him in the woods, the little girl, now a grown-up, comes to understand that though her bison is gone, he will also always be with her. Gaya Wisniewski's evocative charcoal-and-ink illustrations, enriched by the gradual addition of blue watercolor, masterfully convey this tender, affecting story of friendship and understanding the passage of time.

(synopsis from NetGalley; see it on Goodreads)

European authors romanticizing dangerous North American creatures is a theme that I've encountered more than once, unfortunately. First it was bears. Now it's bison, large mammals that have been involved in multiple goring attacks in parks over the last few years. Sounds like a wonderful animal for a young child to approach and try to befriend!

I'm not sure how appealing this book will be to children, anyway. The illustrations are kind of gloomy, all done in shades of black and blue. Yes, the story is about loss and remembrance, but it's also about a woman aging from young childhood to old age... and I'm not sure if that's something that's relatable for the picture-book set.

I can think of a few other books that use the idea of a departed loved one being present in the natural world of those left behind. At least those books don't promote the idea of trying to befriend an animal that might try to kill you.

Thank you to NetGalley and Princeton Architectural Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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