Camas & Sage: A Story of Bison Life on the Prairie
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
illustrated by Christina Wald
Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2015
Camas & Sage is really almost two books in one. The picture book story tells of a lead bison cow named Sage who gives birth to a calf she names Camas. The story follows Camas through her first year of life, from taking her first steps and nursing to following her mother as she leads the herd to find fresh food and water. She learns how to play with the other calves as the adults in the herd position themselves carefully to be aware of predators. The herd braves spring rainstorms and encounters humans at campsites and prairie dogs in the fields. In the summer, Camas learns to protect herself from insects by roaming to higher ridgetops where the wind keeps the bugs at bay, and rolling in the dirt to relieve their itching skin. In late summer, the rut begins, and bulls join the herd, battling each other with their foreheads for the right to mate with the cows. Camas follows her mother as she leaves the herd to mate, and learns to depend more on grass for nourishment as Sage starts to wean her during pregnancy. The cows and calves grow extra fur to protect them from Montana's harsh winters and plow through the snow to find fresh grass to eat. By the time spring arrives, the calves (now yearlings) are becoming more independent, and Camas prepares to take on a leadership role in the herd as her mother gives birth to another calf.