In this children’s picture book, a bison can’t seem to connect with others of his kind, but he’s protective of the many friends he has.
On the prairie lives a bison known as Boomer, because when he runs, his hooves go “BOOM-BOOMER-BOOM!” He sometimes seems to see other bison in the distance, but when he tries to run after them, he can never catch up. Luckily, though, Boomer counts numerous other creatures among his friends, including a jackrabbit named Hop-Hopper-Hop; a butterfly, Flit-Flitter-Flit; and Tweet-Tweeter-Tweet, a meadowlark. They’re all scared of Roar-Roarer-Roar, a mountain lion, and for good reason: he has sharp claws and teeth, as well as a sharp intellect. One day, when Boomer leaves his friends and climbs a hill to search for other bison, Roarer sees his chance and attacks. When Boomer hears the meadlowlark’s frightened twittering, he runs to defend them, booming even “louder than Roarer could roar” and frightening him away. Afterward, the friends realize that they’re also a family. Viola (Nightmares Unhinged, 2015, etc.) tells an emotional story in which danger and loneliness resolve into good feelings of unity and mutual care. The language has a pleasing drama and rhythm: “When Boomer tiptoed, his name sounded soft. Boom… Boomer… Boom. When Boomer ran, his name thundered across the valley. BOOMBOOMERBOOM!” Parents who desire accurate depictions of nature, though, may dislike how a predator, a necessary part of the food chain, is villainized. This is certainly traditional in children’s literature, but some other books on prairie animals are more realistic. Illustrators Bell and Lovett contribute greatly to the storytelling with their full-color, varied, and highly expressive—almost cinematic—pictures, which show the prairie’s beauty. The animals are well-rendered, dynamic, and realistic; their faces show a gamut of emotions from sweetness to cunning.
Wonderfully animated illustrations and a dramatic story, even if it’s unfair to mountain lions.