Cover image for Sky dogs
Sky dogs
Yolen, Jane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego ; New York ; London : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1990]

Springfield, Massachusetts : Holyoke Lithograph.

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A young motherless boy in a tribe of Blackfeet Indians is present when his people see horses for the first time and are changed forever.
General Note:
"The paintings in this book were done in transparent watercolor on paper handmade for the Royal Watercolor Society in 1982 by J. Barcham Greene. The display and text type were set in Trump Mediaeval. Composition by Thompson Type, San Diego, California ; Color separations were made by Bright Arts, Ltd., Singapore. Printed by Holyoke Lithograph, Springfield, Massachusetts ; Bound by Horowitz/Rae Book Manufacturers, Inc., Fairfield, New Jersey ; Production supervision by Warren Wallerstein and Ginger Boyer ; Designed by Barry Moser and Camilla Filancia."--t.p. verso

Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature copy inscribed by the author.
Reading Level:
900 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC K-2 4.6 2 Quiz: 10500 Guided reading level: U.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books

On Order



A young motherless boy in a tribe of Blackfeet Indians is present when his people see horses for the first time and are changed forever.

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. Drawing on a number of Blackfoot Indian stories, Yolen has fashioned a spare, realistic tale of how the Blackfeet first acquired horses. A young boy of the Piegan band relates the time when three Kutani Indians arrived on doglike animals as big as elk. Many Piegan feared the strange creatures, but Long Arrow pronounced them "sky dogs," a gift sent from heaven by Old Man the creator. This simple, undramatic account, which focuses largely on people's immediate reactions, has a feel of authenticity. Young readers, however, might have benefited from more details on how the horses changed the Indians' way of life. Moser's sweeping watercolors drawn on handmade paper glow in sunset tones and range from detailed portraits to silhouettelike panoramas. ~--Leone McDermott

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this lyrical tale drawn from Blackfoot legend, an old man recounts the origin of his name, He-who-loves-horses. He describes the coming of horses, ``Sky Dogs,'' from across the plains, and the wonder and awe he and his people felt when they first saw these ``big . . .elk, with tails of straw.'' He-who-loves-horses, then a lonely boy, learns to care for and ride the beautiful animals, and his knowledge and abilities help him earn a place on the council of warriors--and a sense of self-worth. His story is made all the more poignant by the elderly narrator's revelation that ``now I sit in the tipi, and food is brought to me, and I do not ride the wind.'' Moser's sun-and-earth-toned watercolors, of the plains and of the main character as both boy and man, are lovely and haunting. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-5-- Many legends reflect the radical difference the advent of the horse made in the life of the Plains Indians. In fluid storytelling style, Yolen melds the mythic and the realistic modes in the emotions and reactions of her narrator, a motherless Piegan boy, on the day the first ``sky dogs'' come to his band. Fear and disbelief are tempered by wonder and gratitude . The horse brings the hero a substitute mother and status in the tribe, as it would bring success to all the Plains people. Goble's retelling in The Gift of the Sacred Dog (Bradbury , 1984) emphasizes the legendary over the realistic, and his slick, flat, brightly colored illustrations are the antithesis of Moser's. Moser's palette is all ochre, yellow, and umber, red earth and golden sky. Against the low horizon and dry prairie, humans and horses loom, at once significant and insignificant. Two portrait roundels are as revealing and moving as Catlin's or Bodmer's 19th-century ``noble savages.'' Writer and artist together have produced a fine evocation of a place and a people. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.