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When the firstborn son to the Queen of all buffalo arrives covered, nose-tip to tail, with the spots of a calico kitten, the Queen, her Chief and the entire buffalo nation are sent tumbling into the adventure of a lifetime.

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Liz Smith

“We can always use a brand new legend in this old world and now we have one- ‘The Calico Buffalo’ will clutch your heart even as its villain, Thorn, catches your imagination.
Bravo to EJ Stapleton!”

Liz Smith

syndicated columnist

Kendal Rautzhan

“A magical, profound fable told in rhyme, The Calico Buffalo contains powerful, important messages for young and old alike. Universal and timeless issues of ignorance, prejudice, tolerance, diversity, forgiveness, wisdom and much more, this recommendation is essential for the world we live in. Perfectly complemented by expressive, beautiful illustrations, The Calico Buffalo is a MUST-READ.”

Kendal Rautzhan

syndicated columnist

Georgia Family

 ‘The Calico Buffalo’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and intelligently written children’s books I’ve seen since the writings of Shel Silverstein.

Editor’s Choice Award

Book of the Year

 Georgia Family Magazine

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EJ Stapleton Image

EJ Stapleton, the second of five children, was born in 1953 in Boston, Massachusetts. There is a story of a babysitter walking in to find him, at two years old, standing in his crib, drawing all over his bedroom wall. Not much has changed since then. He still writes or draws on anything that doesn’t move.

EJ was educated through the Boston Public School system and spent most of his time there searching for whatever information he could gather about art and the people who generate it. In 1971, he left for a two-week trip to Italy. He returned in 1973. This began what continues today to be a lifetime of  learning, handshake by handshake, the true heart of the human tribe.

In the mid-1970’s EJ was lucky enough to find himself in the company of Joseph Solman, one of the founders of the American Expressionist movement. Until his death in 2008 at age ninety-nine, Mr. Solman was one of the most active and powerful influences in the art world and a steadfast source of influence and inspiration to all facets of EJ’s work.

In 2012, EJ, along with Grammy-award winning composer, Peter Stopschinski and NY director Craig J. George, began work on an adaptation of The Calico Buffalo for musical theater. The Calico Buffalo Musical was first presented as part of the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) where the show enjoyed full houses, an extended run and took home the coveted Audience Award, ‘BEST of FEST’. Their work on the musical continues.

(In both 2017 & 2018, EJ Stapleton was named a Jonathan Larson Grant finalist by The American Theatre Wing.)

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The inspiration for the Calico Buffalo came straight out of a dream.  A dream in which I was taken for a sunrise ride,  by two enormous animals, across what appeared to me to be the Painted Desert. With ribs pressed together, the two ran side-by-side. I rode stretched out, lying on their rib cages with one arm around each neck. As they ran, the colors flew by.  Overhead, beneath us and directly  into our faces. We moved with lightning speed. When we reached the edge of the desert, I stood between them, staring up at the giants. They were two massive buffalo. Each with nostrils pulsing out  clouds of iced breath. Each covered, head to hoof, with white, orange and black spots.

At the breakfast table the next morning, I told the story to Jan who said, “Leave it to you to dream of calico buffalo.”

The rhyme immediately caught my ear.  As children, we were taught that rhyming was the language of the angels and the fairies. By the end of the day, the first three pages of ‘The Calico Buffalo’ rested on my nightstand.


EJ Stapleton

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