The Water-Buffalo Children

The Water-Buffalo Children, by Pearl S. Buck, is a delightful story for 6-9 year olds (and for our inner child as grown-ups).  It’s actually a story out of Buck’s own childhood in China, and the book is written in the format of a mother telling her children this memory/story in front of the fireplace one evening.  It was published in 1943, and in the beginning the style of this book seems somewhat old-fashioned, but Buck soon moves right into the storytelling, and we are carried away by the story of these three young children–one little American girl, a Chinese brother and little sister, and a water-buffalo.

From the publisher:

One afternoon when the author was a little girl in China, she was reading about Aladdin and wondering if she could find anything magic near her.  She picked up a stone and rubbed it.

Suddenly out of the tall grass, the huge face of Da Lobo, the Big Turnip, appeared.  She looked up and saw the Water-Buffalo children, Farmer Ching’s son and daughter, riding on the Water-Buffalo’s back.

The little American girl thought the magic stone had brought them there.  The Water-Buffalo children insisted they had been coming anyhow.

But whether or not the stone was magic and what they did to find out is the story which the author tells here for her own and other American children that they may know and enjoy the Chinese children.

As a grandma and as a teacher, I feel it’s so important to introduce young children to other cultures, which was something Pearl S. Buck did brilliantly in each of her books for children.  This book gives a joyful glimpse of another culture and the experience of one young girl as the “foreigner” in the neighborhood.  It’s a sweet little book, and I’m going to try it out on my 2nd graders after the holidays to see what they think…

I read this book for my personal Reading Pearl challenge, and for J Kaye’s Support Your Local Library Challenge.

4 thoughts on “The Water-Buffalo Children

  1. Robin Post author

    I’d never heard of it, either, Kailana, but as soon as I saw her name on the book, I knew I had to read it. My students really enjoyed it this week in school. It was “old-fashioned” in some ways (which we talked about), but absolutely timeless in others. A sweet read…


  2. Les in NE

    Oh, my! I haven’t thought of this book in decades!! I’ve owned it since the late ’60s. I think it was a Christmas gift from my parents; part of a boxed set of Dell Yearling Books. I’m pretty sure that these are the books that were in that set:

    The Water-Buffalo Children and The Dragon Fish (2 Stories) by Pearl S. Buck
    Elephi, The Cat with the High IQ by Jean Stafford
    Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
    Especially Humphrey by Mini Lewiton
    A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
    Paddington at Work by Michael Bond

    I only vaguely remember The Dragon Fish story, but I do remember The Water-Buffalo Children. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


  3. Robin Post author

    Les, that’s a wonderful list of books! I had never heard of The Water-Buffalo Children until I found it in the library. I’ll have to search for The Dragon Fish story. I am loving reading her books, for children and for adults. She was such a beautiful writer.



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