Oh Lord, I Wish I was a Buzzard

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9781587171222: Oh Lord, I Wish I was a Buzzard

"We picked and we picked and we picked and we picked..." From dawn to dusk, a little girl harvests cotton with her family during the sweltering crop season. Imagining her way through the endless day, she wishes she could be anyone else-from a snake curved up and cool to a buzzard going round and round in the sky. Then at last, sunset approaches and a special treat awaits.

Polly Greenberg's rhythmic, easy-to-read text and Aliki's striking sun-soaked illustrations together make an unforgettable tale-part story, part song, and all poetry. Though based on a sharecropper's childhood memory from generations ago, this timeless story reflects everyone's wish to escape...and to be as free as a bird. First published in 1968, it is a powerful today as the day it was first told.

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Review:

It is a hot day for picking cotton in the fields, and every living creature seems to be better off than the sharecropper's hard-working daughter. The buzzard's flying around freely overhead, the snake is "curved up cold and cool," and the lucky dog pants in the shade. The doe-eyed little girl tells us, "I saw a dog lying under a bush, / going huh-huh-huh like dogs do. / I said, 'Oh Lord, I wish I was a dog.'" Her wistful, gently comical refrain "Oh Lord, I wish I was..." makes for a rhythmic, satisfying read-aloud. Polly Greenberg's lyrical text and Aliki's splendid, bold illustrations (reminiscent of the artful simplicity of Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day) make Oh Lord, I Wish I Was a Buzzard, first published in 1968, absolutely unforgettable. Aliki's use of pattern and color is no less than spectacular, and the expressions on the girl's face are priceless. This universally appealing story will hit home with any child wishing he or she were anywhere but in his or her current predicament! The book concludes with notes for parents and teachers about children who work to help their families, child labor laws, and the oral narrative based on Mississippi sharecropper Gladys Henton that inspired this lovely story. (Preschool to age 5) --Karin Snelson

About the Author:

Polly Greenberg was a founder of the Child Development Group of Mississippi, a Head Start program initiated in 1965 and operated by several thousand African-American sharecroppers and other low-income people. She lives in Washington D.C.

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