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…