Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Native Canadian


Buffalo Rubbing Stone

by (author) Mary Harelkin Bishop

edited by Deana Driver

illustrated by Heaven Starr

DriverWorks Ink
Initial publish date
Nov 2016
Native Canadian, Values & Virtues
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12


When his Grade 6 teacher assigns a Canadian heritage project, Danny is paired with one of the Indigenous kids, Zach. Danny and Zach don’t like one another, but they’ve never bothered to get to know one another either. While learning more about his own family's background, Danny reads his great-grandmother’s journal entries about breaking the land, building and living in a sod house, and how the First Nations people helped her and she helped them after the buffalo disappeared and food became scarce. The more Danny digs into family history, the more he realizes that his and Zach’s pasts are complicated and connected. He realizes he has an important decision to make.

About the authors


  • Commended, Honorable Mention, Young Adult, Hollywood Book Festival
  • Commended, Honourable Mention, Young Adult Fiction, Purple Dragonfly Book Awards

Contributor Notes

About the Author:
Mary Harelkin Bishop has been a writer since she was nine years old. She is the author of the best-selling Tunnels of Moose Jaw books, the award-winning Seeds of Hope, Moving Forward, and Gina’s Wheels. She has also been a teacher, a teacher-librarian, and an educational/instructional consultant with Saskatoon Public Schools and has spent more than half her career working in core neighbourhood schools. A few years ago, Mary took a leave of absence to study the effects of colonization on Indigenous students in our school systems. Her thesis is entitled: Soul-to-Soul: Deconstructing Deficit Thinking in the Classroom. Her newest novel, Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone reflects her learning as she, too, walks with our cousins on the journey toward relationships and reconciliation.

About the illustrator
Heaven Starr is a Dakota Cree woman who lives on Starblanket First Nation in east central Saskatchewan. She started drawing and painting in 2014, in her Grade 10 school year, after learning more about her First Nations background. Her hope is that her artwork will honour her ancestors and bloodlines.

Excerpt: Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone (by (author) Mary Harelkin Bishop; edited by Deana Driver; illustrated by Heaven Starr)

Chapter Three: Danny

Exhausted from working so late the night before, Danny nearly missed the school bus the next morning. The excitement of driving the grain truck had given way to sore muscles. He was groggy, fuzzy-headed and cranky when he tripped downstairs and slumped into a chair for breakfast.

Even the twins’ cheerful faces couldn’t brighten his day. As he gulped down a bowl of cereal, Danny remembered that he hadn’t finished his math homework and he definitely hadn’t done any reading. He groaned inwardly and sighed.

Maybe he could do the math on the bus ride into town. Worry about Zach followed Danny like a black cloud as he sprinted down the lane to where Mr. Friesen waited impatiently, tooting his horn for Danny to hurry up. Danny knew that it was going to be a very long and difficult day.

He thought about going back to the house and telling his mother he felt sick or that he was too tired to go to school.

He decided not to. He knew, from the worried looks she cast in his direction over breakfast, that it would be the end of his truck-driving, grain-hauling days.

With a sigh, Danny settled into a seat near the back of the bus and tried to muster some energy. Looking around, he realized that he wasn’t the only tired kid on the bus.

Several of his classmates looked like they had had late nights as well. Fleetingly, he thought of pulling the math homework out of his backpack. Instead, pulling his baseball cap more firmly over his forehead, Danny leaned back on the bus seat and shut his eyes.

* * *

“Good morning, Class,” Mr. Gibson said cheerfully as he took attendance. The kids responded with a murmured greeting. “Pardon me?” he asked, cupping his ear and tilting his head. “I didn’t hear you.”

There was a collective sigh from the students before they responded, “Good morning, Mr. Gibson,” in a singsong manner, which sounded like a Grade 1 class.

Mr. Gibson laughed. “I know you feel like primary students, but it’s nice to greet one another each day.”

The classroom door opened and Zach slunk in well after the bell had run. “Good morning, Zach,” Mr. Gibson said; his voice was a question.

“I was at the dentist,” Zach murmured in reply as he slid soundlessly into his seat. “Sorry, I forgot to tell you,” he muttered, staring at his desktop.

“Okay, Zach. Try to remember next time.”

Thinking that math was next, Danny was totally caught off guard when the class reassembled after lunch. “I want to talk more about your history assignment,” Mr. Gibson announced after the bell rang. “I’m going to give you 30 seconds to move your desks together – partner to partner.”

Danny felt his stomach drop into his shoes. He had hoped that Mr. Gibson would never get around to this history project. Danny hadn’t changed his mind. He still didn’t want to work with Zach, but he didn’t seem to have a choice about it.

The classroom erupted into a cacophony of noise as desks clattered and scraped on the floor. Voices rose as partners called to one another, deciding who would move or where they would meet within the confines of the classroom. Zach glanced up and met Danny’s eyes, then looked down at his desk. He sat, unmoving as a stone, and Danny sighed, knowing that he would have to be the one to move. Zach wasn’t even going to try meet him halfway.

In exasperation, Danny pushed his desk across the room, the legs protesting loudly as they scratched against the floor. Reaching Zach, Danny pushed his desk roughly against Zach’s and sat down with a thump, studiously ignoring Zach.

Their shoulders were only a few centimetres apart and Danny could hear Zach’s shallow, angry breathing.

Mr. Gibson’s voice climbed above the racket. “Twenty-seven seconds, twenty-eight...” The noise began to subside as partners met and dropped into their seats. “Twenty-nine, thirty.” The last of the clatter died away and the students sat with their partners, waiting expectantly.


Editorial Reviews

“If you loved Mary Harelkin Bishop’s Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story, you’ve no doubt been waiting for it’s companion book with eager anticipation. Bishop has a way of painting characters that are memorable and her style of writing easily draws the reader into the story. You’re on chapter two before you know it! This is a story that stayed with me. It snuck into my brain and left me pondering for days. Although the book is aimed at ages 10 and up, I have no doubt that it will be enjoyed by readers of all ages."

Other titles by

Other titles by

Other titles by