The Great Race of the Birds and Animals is a retelling of a Plains legend about a great race that took place long ago to determine who should be caretakers of the environment. The story begins in the present times with a highway scene in the Black Hills of South Dakota and a road sign warning motorists about the buffalo roaming free. In fact, one large bull is scratching his hairy chin on the road sign in a mischievous way. The author then takes young readers on an adventure from long ago. It was a time when the buffalo actually hunted and ate humans. The people suffered greatly and their prayers caused the creator to take pity on them. He called together a great meeting of all the animals, birds, and humans. During the meeting, the Creator proposed a great race between the buffalo and people with the winner earning the right to eat whatever they chose. Each side could select which group of animals or birds would be on their team. The birds, having two legs, sided with the people. The animals with four legs went to the support of the buffalo. Each side selected their fastest runners for the great race. When the race began each lead runner went ahead of their entire team. Among the birds, the slow-flying magpie, devised a plan. She chose to ride unseen on the buffalo's great back. While other animals and birds faltered, the race continued. The gopher tunneled underground, the beaver and muskrat joined each other for a swim in a pond, and rabbit hopped away over the plain. Finally as the young man slipped farther behind the lead buffalo, the magpie flew skyward from her perch. She soared upward and came down quickly reaching the finish line before the buffalo. The people had won and the buffalo all agreed that it was a fair race. From that day on, the Creator warned the people to use their power over the animals wisely and care for them. The animals and birds are the relatives of the people so that the people took buffalo only when they needed meat. When this happened they always gave thanks. From that day, the magpie is a respected bird, and the people show this by wearing the feathers of the birds. The author provides details about the sources for this legend. He spent many years among the Plains people and heard and read about this great race. The colourful illustrations capture the spirit of the story and make this book a great read for younger students. ATOS Reading Level: 3.7; Lexile: 590L; Reading Level: 3.4.