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by Sherry Garland & illustrated by Ronald Himler

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-58980-391-4
Publisher: Pelican

Eloquent for all its brevity, this fictional soldier’s reminiscence traces nearly the whole real history of the Buffalo Soldiers, from the Indian Wars to WWII, and is reinforced by both a meaty introduction and a closing bibliography. No longer a slave, but seeing no future in sharecropping, the narrator writes, “I walk to New Orleans and put by X on the line / when I hear tell the U.S. Army is looking for young Negro men / to serve on the Western frontier.” Through the course of a decades-long career, he faces challenges from a drill sergeant “mean as a skunk” to attacks by bandits and Apache while escorting surveyors and settlers, recalling good times and bad, and even a charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War. He closes with an old man’s ruminations on the familiar sounding complaints of his grandson, who writes from another war about mean sergeants and bad food: “I just have to smile, and nod my head. / You see, once I was a soldier, too.” Himler’s full-bleed western scenes add proper amounts of drama, touches of humor and natural-looking details to this engrossing tribute. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)