Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman

Buffalo Soldier

Written by Tanya Landman

11+ readers   All Shortlists and Winners   Carnegie Greenaway   13+ readers   
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Winner of the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal

The Judges comment “We were particularly impressed with how Buffalo Soldier explored what it means to be truly free: the evolving idea of freedom is an essential part of this gripping, often traumatic book"

What does freedom really mean? Tanya Landman pushes back against all kinds of prejudice in this action-packed, emotionally rich and vividly told story about one girl’s struggle to find out. When Charley is freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War between the Yankees and the Confederates she imagines a new world of unlimited opportunities. Instead, she finds a life that is more dangerous than ever before. Her only way to survive is to disguise herself as a boy and join the army. But the army, like everywhere else, is riddled with prejudice and danger. It is only when Charley is sent to fight against the Apache Indians, another much discriminated against group, that she begins to learn what is could mean to be free.

On winning the Carnegie Medal Tanya highlighted the need for children to be free to use their imaginations “I’ve watched teachers tied in straitjackets by the demands of the national curriculum and Ofsted, and students imprisoned in boxes that need to be ticked. At a time when China is looking for ways to teach their children to create and innovate, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Our system is in danger of squeezing every scrap of imagination out of our children.”

The author explained how the benefits of children reading for pleasure were clear: “Someone who reads for pleasure is far less likely to be a bully or a bigot. They are far less likely to cause harm to others because they can imagine how it would feel. They are far less likely to collude with any kind of persecution. Instead, they are far more likely to do something about it.”

On the benefits of public libraries, she said: “In a healthy, affluent society access to books should be freely available to everyone. So why on Earth are our libraries under threat? Is it because they [politicians] are arrogant? Stupid? Or is a population that is disengaged, uninterested and apathetic easier to manage and control?”


Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman

What kind of a girl steals the clothes from a dead man's back and runs off to join the army? A desperate one. That's who. At the end of the American Civil War, Charley - a young African-American slave from the deep south - is ostensibly freed. But then her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob and Charley is left alone. In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person's skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Soon she's being sent to the prairies to fight a whole new war against the savage Indians . Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it's only when Charley is posted to Apache territory that she begins to learn what it is to be truly free.

Tanya writes with great authority on this part of US history, her novel Apache was nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal.


Praise for Apache

“Apache is a magnificent account of life in a doomed tribe …a disturbing but exhilarating experience.” The Independent

About the Author

Tanya Landman

As a child
Tanya Landman used to spend a lot of time up trees (with a skipping rope tied around her waist), hoping to turn into a monkey. She spent the rest of the time rescuing snails, righting beetles and burying the birds that the cat brought home.

As an adult
Tanya studied for a degree in English Literature at Liverpool University before working in a bookshop, an arts centre and a zoo. Since 1992 Tanya has been part of Storybox Theatre working as a writer, administrator and performer - a job which has taken her to festivals all over the world. She lives with her husband, Rod Burnett, and two sons, Isaac and Jack, in Devon.

As an artist
Tanya had no ambition to write until Waking Merlin popped into her head a few years ago; but now she can't seem to stop writing! She says it's the best job ever - being allowed to spend hours staring into space, daydreaming...

Things you didn't know about Tanya Landman
1. Tanya once had a pet pig called Tilly.

2. She now has a ferocious Siamese cat called Edgar.

3. She can make a horse's top lip go all floppy.

4. She loves swimming in the sea, but is a total wuss about cold water and has to wear a wetsuit even in August.

5. In years and years of school PE lessons, she never ever managed to hit the rounders ball.

6. Or the tennis ball.

7. She knows how to scratch a pig until it gets faint with happiness.

8. She is scared of heights.

9. She can milk a goat.

10. She is kind to spiders, even though she is scared of them.

Q & A with Tanya Landman about her book Geronimo

What gave you the idea for this book?

A few years ago I wrote a book called Apache. When it was published I went all over the UK giving talks. I soon found out that no one knew much about the history of America. Some people didn’t even know how thousands of white European immigrants had crossed the Atlantic to America to settle there. Or that anyone else lived there first. Many thought an Apache was a helicopter or a computer program. They didn’t know anything about the native American people. That’s why I decided to write about Geronimo.

Was Geronimo the only great Indian warrior?
There were so many, I’d need another book to list them all. Each Indian tribe had its own extraordinary heroes – the Sioux had Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse who defeated General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. The Apaches had Cochise, Juh and Victorio whose sister Lozen was a woman warrior.

If you could meet Geronimo, what would you ask him?
Geronimo became very famous. In 1905, when Theodore Roosevelt was elected as US President he asked Geronimo to ride in his parade. I’d ask Geronimo how he really felt about that.

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Book Info


368 pages
Interest Age: From 14


Tanya Landman
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

3rd April 2014




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