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Native American Literature #3


Goble, Paul. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. New York: Aladdin Books, 1978. ISBN: 0-689-84504-9.


The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is a children’s picture book.  The plot of the story is about a Native American girl who loves wild horses and chooses to go live with them. 


Paul Goble is a non-American Indian reteller and illustrator of picture books.  As an adopted member of the Ogala Sioux and Yakima tribes, he admires and respects their values and traditions.  Therefore, he writes culturally conscious books. (Noll, 1995)


Although the story never mentions that the girl is Native American, the illustrations portray a girl from a Plain Indian tribe.   The actual name of the tribe is not mentioned in the story.  The illustrations are done in vibrant colors that show patterns typical of the Indians of the Plains.  The author uses techniques that show movement and excitement among the animals and the environment.   The people on the other hand are portrayed in a respectful way.   They are placed in the illustrations in poses that looks away from the reader.  This is done to avoid showing facial expressions.  However, each character in the story is illustrated with unique facial features and clothing using different kinds of patterns and colors common to the Indian of the Plains.  In other words, they are not replicas of each other.


We know the book refers to Plain Indians because the illustrations show that they hunt buffalo and they live in teepees in order to move freely to do so.  However, the time period is not clear from reading the book.  The reader may infer that it was a long time ago because the illustrations make to reference to any modern things. 


The story is simple to understand.  It shows the importance Native Americans give to the tribe as a community and to each member of the tribe.  However, it also shows the respect they give to the desires and decisions of individuals.  When the hunters realized she was with the wild horses, they searched for her and brought her back; but the tribe and her parents allowed her to go back because that made her happy. 


This is a good book that can be used with elementary students to identify the artifacts, patterns, and symbols that project the culture of the Plain Indians.  Then, we could compare such things with those common in the culture of our students today.  This way the students can see the difference in the cultures that surrounds them as well as the culture of the Plains Indians.




Noll, Elizabeth. “Accuracy and Authenticity in American Indian Children’s Literature: The Social Responsibility of Authors and Illustrators”. In Stories Matter” The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children’s Literature, edited by Dana L. Fox and Kathy G. Short, p. 182-197. Illinois, National OCucil of Teachers of English, 2003.