Brand Is Forever


Gramp designs Annie her own special brand for the upcoming branding of her beloved pet calf, Doodle. Although Annie's brother predicts that she won't be able to watch, both Annie and Doodle survive this rite of passage in triumph.

Despite the fact that Gramp has designed and made a special brand to be her own, Annie is distressed about the upcoming branding of her beloved orphaned calf Doodle.

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New York, NY 1993 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 46 p. Audience: Children/juvenile.

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Gramp designs Annie her own special brand for the upcoming branding of her beloved pet calf, Doodle. Although Annie's brother predicts that she won't be able to watch, both Annie and Doodle survive this rite of passage in triumph.

Despite the fact that Gramp has designed and made a special brand to be her own, Annie is distressed about the upcoming branding of her beloved orphaned calf Doodle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As branding day on the ranch draws near, Annie grows increasingly apprehensive. Her beloved pet calf, Doodle, will be marked with the searing iron for the first time, and her older brother has dared her to keep her eyes open throughout the whole distressing episode. Scott's ( On Mother's Lap ; Someday Rider ) somewhat rambling account of this traditional western event--an engaging and uncommon picture-book topic--demonstrates an affecting folksiness and restraint that gradually draw readers in. Flashback sequences relating the history of Annie's family and of her relationship with Doodle flesh out the story and add an inviting verisimilitude. Both the narrative itself and an informative endnote about brands open a window on a way of life sure to be unfamiliar to many. Readers will pull for girl and calf as they both emerge victorious from their respective ordeals. Himler's ( Fly Away Home ; The Wall ) pastel-toned watercolors offer an atmospheric portrayal of open country, horses and cattle; their subdued tone nicely suits the story's laid-back--though deeply felt--emotionality. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- Annie lives on a cattle ranch, where everyone looks forward to branding day. This year she dreads the event, because it's her pet heifer's turn. The story leads up to the roundup, telling of Annie's concern and the purpose of the practice. Full-color paintings capture the family's interactions and activities. The branding-day action is authentic, documenting the realities and traditions of ranch life. (Castration of bull calves isn't mentioned, although it's a typical part of the process.) While branding is a fact of Western life, the facts of burning the calf's hide and cutting ear notches may be too graphic for sensitive city kids (and adult animal activists). Readers are sure to sympathize with Annie and sigh with relief when it's over. Her story will capture the interest of those fascinated with the true West. --Charlene Strickland, formerly at Albuquerque Public Library , NM
Ilene Cooper
In an age of political correctness, one would think the "correct" part would always be obvious. Not necessarily so. Take the book "A Brand Is Forever". The brandee in question is a pet calf named Doodle. Her owner, young Annie, hates the idea of branding Doodle, but, on the other hand, she knows it's necessary for the smooth running of the ranch. This is where matters get sticky. City folk and/or animal lovers are likely to be repelled by the idea of a book on branding. It's tantamount to celebrating cruelty to animals. But, hey, aren't we supposed to look at other people's customs with an open mind? That's what diversity is all about Perhaps if we go back to the book our politically murky thoughts will clear. The story begins with Annie's opening her locket and gazing at a picture of Doodle. Tomorrow is branding day, and though Annie has always looked forward to it in the past, she's worried about what her calf will have to go through. In fact, her brother, Buster, bets Annie she won't be able to keep her eyes open throughout the branding. There are all kinds of scenes that may jar as the story progresses: Grandpa, the voice of reason and tradition, making a brand on the anvil and telling Annie that "a brand is worth all the trouble it takes"; Annie's being told by Grandpa that the branding will only hurt for a minute easy for him to say; or the picture of a frightened calf being dragged to the branding fire But perhaps the most unsettling parts of the story are the possessiveness Annie demonstrates and the way her concern for Doodle competes with her real excitement at having the calf become her very own. At one point in the story, Annie has trouble finding the calf in a crowd. The text reads "Could Doodle be lost? Lost before she had a chance to be burned with the new Double H-A? Lost before the brand could tell the whole world that she belonged to Annie--forever?" And at the end of the book, as Annie tenderly strokes Doodle's hip "near the burnt brown letters," she whispers to the calf, "You'll always belong to me. Remember, a brand is forever." Well, yes it is, but it's a bit disconcerting to see the pleasures of ownership celebrated quite so blatantly, especially when the item being owned is a living animal On the other hand, author Scott makes a good case for the practical reasons behind branding, and readers with some knowledge of ranching are likely to agree with Gramps that the procedure is necessary "tags fall off, paint wears out". Scott's text effectively puts branding in the context of a working ranch, and Himler's airy watercolors help to lighten the mood, even as they give a real sense of the western terrain and the energy of ranch life Still, the nagging questions persist: What will animal rights people think? Branding certainly seems cruel to a city slicker, but what about being sensitive to the lives of others? Just because I don't want to brand a calf doesn't mean that others shouldn't. On the other hand, what about the whole ownership thing? Aren't animals today called companions, not pets? Butterflies are free, after all . . . Arrgh That a book so ultimately innocuous as this one might well provoke controversy finally says more about our politically charged climate than it does about branding as the subject of a children's book. As reviewers and as readers, we have an alarming tendency today to think first not of the book itself but of whom it might offend. As well-intentioned as this might be, it leads us away from reviewing books and toward endorsing messages. That's dangerous territory for us all What gets lost in the political morass are the books themselves--or, in this case, a simple story about a girl, a pet calf, and life on a ranch. Looked at dispassionately, "A Brand Is Forever" is a reasonable introduction to the branding of animals--a practice that some might abhor and others might find totally unobjectionable. Except perhaps for Annie's whispering "forever" in Doodle's ear, there's really nothing ambiguous about this story. Like most books, it has its strong points the art and the straightforward approach to presenting the facts of branding and its weak points a sometimes contrived story. The book should be judged on those merits, not on how well it fits the attitudinal climate of the times. Is "A Brand Is Forever" recommended by "Booklist"? Well, it's by no means a notable book, but it doesn't deserve to be a casualty of the P.C. watchdogs, either. Let's put it this way: for libraries needing children's books on branding, this one should fill the bill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395601181
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/22/1993
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.64 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald Himler is the illustrator of several successful picure books for Clarion, including TRAIN TO SOMEWHERE, FLY AWAY HOME, and THE WALL. Mr. Himler studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and New York University. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Ann Herbert Scott describes herself as "a transplanted Easterner who has come to love the wide skies and far mountain ranges of the West." She is the author of SAM, ON MOTHER'S LAP, and several other picture books. She lives Benicia, California.

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