Finders Keepers by Andrea Spalding, first published in 1995, has come out in a new and updated edition. When I saw the blurb mentioning that the setting included the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, I knew I wanted to read the book. This World Heritage Site was a highlight of a trip my husband, my sister Ruth, and I took to Canada in 2011. The site guide said this area was operational long before the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu.
As I began reading the book, I struggled at first with the two issues, dyslexia and honor for First Nations beliefs and traditions, trying to decide which was the important premise for the story. Gradually, they become interwoven like yin and yang. Danny Budzynski, challenged with dyslexia, is very bright but not good at school skills. He finds an Indian lance head and new friends in Joshua Brokenhorn and his grandfather who are members of the Piikani Nation. Danny alternately grapples with his own learning disability and his conscience in deciding what to do with the ancient lance head, treasured by him in one way and his friends in another.
In the back matter, Andrea Spalding lists a number of resources for both the First Nations and the dyslexia strands of her story, including the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Center that we visited and hints at personal knowledge of dyslexia in her author’s notes as she thanks Dave for “untiring correction of my garbled spelling that baffles spellcheckers.”
Her glossary and author notes add authenticity to her understanding of the struggles of dyslexia and the importance of honoring the beliefs and traditions of the people of First Nations. Besides commending the book, I also recommend a trip to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Center if you should find yourself in Alberta, Canada.