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My Bison

Gaya Wisniewski's first book in English, My Bison, is a gentle story of love, loss and healing told through unadorned text and extraordinary illustration.

One spring, a young girl's mother holds her up to see a bison. "Look!" the mom says. "He's back!" The girl visits the meadow every day, getting closer and closer to the large animal until they're friends. The girl pets him and brings him food. But one morning, her bison must leave "to join up with the other bison." She wishes he could stay, but she's sure he'll return "when snow cover[s] the ground again." The girl is lonely until it's winter again, and her bison does return. He listens "with tenderness" as she relates stories about the forest she loves and all the things she's done while he was gone. The years go by and her bison leaves many times, always returning to the girl. Until one winter when he does not.

As the narrator imparts her story of unlikely friendship, Wisniewski's breathtaking art portrays the bison doing increasingly fantastical things, such as eating with a spoon, sipping tea at a table and lying tucked into a cozy bed. Likewise, as the story progresses and readers fall more deeply under its spell, the charcoal and ink illustrations become enhanced by strategically placed deep blue and mauve. The spare text, surrounded by plenty of white space, adds to the hushed tone of the piece, and leaves plenty of room for reflection. Deeply contemplative, never frightening, this fanciful tale of friendship amid the passing years is not to be missed. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI