Buffalo Before Breakfast — "Magic Tree House" Series
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the 18th book in the "Magic Tree House" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Eight–year-old Jack and his 7-year-old sister, Annie, are eagerly awaiting their grandmother's visit when a dog named Teddy arrives. Teddy is under a spell that requires Jack and Annie to find four special items to free him.
They've already found a gift from a ship lost at sea, and now they must find a gift from the prairie blue. The children follow Teddy to the magic tree house, where they find a book called The Great Plains. They realize this must be where the next item is, so they decide to track it down.
When they arrive in the grassy plains, they find themselves surrounded by open sky and wearing buckskin clothes. There's nothing in sight, so they choose a direction and start walking. Over a small rise, Annie finds a Lakota Indian camp. Since they're not sure it's safe, they hide in the tall grass until a young warrior named Black Hawk sees them. He approaches them cautiously, but once he discovers they aren't dangerous, he decides to bring them back to camp to meet his grandmother.
Black Hawk introduces the children to his grandmother, who teaches them about her people. They learn that the Lakota value bravery and believe that by wearing animal skins and claws, they will have the courage of those animals. Black Hawk shows them a wolf skin he wears when he hunts. Grandmother teaches them about the buffalo and how the Lakota rely on the animal for food, tools and even shelter.
Black Hawk wants to take Jack and Annie to see the buffalo. Before they go, Grandmother tells Black Hawk not to hunt because they have all the buffalo meat they need for the day. The three children have to ride bareback to reach the buffalo. Annie is excited and climbs right onto the horse, but Jack is scared. He remembers that the Lakota value courage, so he makes himself mount the horse.
Jack and Annie are amazed by the large number of buffalo grazing on the plains. Wanting to display his bravery and impress his new friends, Black Hawk begins to hunt, but as he's sneaking up on a buffalo, he sneezes. The noise scares the animal, and it begins to charge, causing the other buffalo to stampede. Teddy runs into the action, and Annie follows close behind. Seeing that Black Hawk needs help, Jack rides to his aid and saves the warrior.
As Jack tries to find Annie in the stampede, he fears she's been hurt. He finally spots her surrounded by calm buffalo. Gradually, the other buffalo begin to calm down, too. Annie tells the boys that a woman in white appeared and helped her calm the buffalo, but then she disappeared. Black Hawk explains that the woman was the White Buffalo Woman, a spirit.
At the camp, they tell Grandmother about their adventure. She gives Jack and Annie the Lakota names Rides-Like-Wind and Buffalo Girl to symbolize their bravery. Grandmother also gives them an eagle feather to thank them for their bravery. They realize this is the item they've been searching for, the next gift they need to free Teddy. Jack and Annie spend the night with the Lakota and return to the tree house in the morning.
Back home, Jack and Annie are excited to find their grandmother waiting to visit with them.
Other Belief Systems
Jack and Annie are able to travel through time and space within a tree house. Morgan le Fey, an enchantress, owns the tree house and the library inside it. It is her magic that allows the children to travel and go on adventures.
Teddy, the dog Annie and Jack are trying to help, is under a spell. Morgan charged them with freeing him.
Annie seems to be able to sense things. She knows when she and Jack are approaching the Lakota camp. And she seems to be able to communicate with Teddy and other animals.
The Lakota believe in many different spirits. The Great Spirit is thought to be the source of all the other spirits. Those spirits include wind spirits, tree spirits and animal spirits, as well as The White Buffalo Woman, one of the Great Spirit's messengers. Black Hawk and his fellow hunters wear animal skins, claws and bones to make them strong and courageous while they hunt.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.
Smoking: During a ritual, the Lakota pass a pipe around in a circle and each person takes a turn smoking the pipe. Jack and Annie observe this but don't participate.
You can request a review of a title you can't find at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.