Goodbye, Buffalo Sky

John Loveday, Author, Pamela Patrick, Illustrator Margaret K. McElderry Books $16 (176p) ISBN 978-0-689-81370-2
British poet Loveday's (Halo) first YA novel, about a white orphan boy who comes of age in the American West in the late 1800s, is awkward and confusing. Young Cappy Carew's life changes when he witnesses the murder of his mentor, Burkhart, by a Sioux Indian. The Sioux, who was jealous of Burkhart's marriage to Two Songs, a beautiful Mandan girl, continues to pursue the widow. The novel follows Cappy and his friend Alice's adventures en route to returning Two Songs to her tribe, but Loveday clutters his plot with a series of unconnected and fragmented events. For example, in the last third of the novel, he introduces minor characters whose primary purpose is to kill off the villain and rescue the girls (Saucepan, a kind of traveling salesman, joins the rescue party, and an unnamed dying man strikes the villain with an arrow). Adding to the confusion is the random and interchangeable first-person narration by Cappy and Alice, which most readers may only recognize by consulting the running heads. Instead of using the format to fill in the gaps, Loveday omits key details. Specifically, Cappy's orphan background, his relation to his caregiver Bessie and his role in the boarding house he calls home are never made clear. An abrupt ending that fails to follow through on the relationships Alice and Cappy forge throughout their adventures brings this unsatisfying novel to a close. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-7475-2329-1
Hardcover - 144 pages - 978-0-7475-2330-7
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