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Children's LiteratureWith the coming of the Spanish conquerors to Mexico a system of land ownership and governance was established that eventually led to the creation of vast ranches across the land. In California, that land owning system came to be known as the ranchos, wherein aristocratic owners ran vast holdings while poor Indians did practically all of the hard labor. The rancho system eventually died out but left behind a legacy that included cultural and work aspects that remain a part of the imagery of the West. In California Ranchos, Natalie M. Rosinsky presents a potpourri of topics related to the rancho system. Included in this illustrated volume of the "We The People" series are chapters dealing with cowboys, land ownership and its origins, the effect of the California gold strike of 1849, and cultural aspects of the rancho system. One of the highlights of this slim book is the choice of illustrations. Readers have been given an opportunity to see vaqueros working cattle, as well as other aspects of daily life on a California rancho via period prints. Despite the interesting nature of the subject matter, the paucity of depth afforded to topics makes this a somewhat episodic book. Perhaps the subject would have been better served by more sharply focusing on one or two key aspects of rancho life rather than a mere smattering of information about such a broad topic. 2006, Compass Point Books/Capstone Press, Ages 9 to 12.
—Greg M. Romaneck