Cowboy Sam and Those Confounded Secrets

Overview

Under Cowboy Sam’s hat are more secrets than fleas on Doc Peeble’s hound dog, more secrets than peppers on a chili pepper plant, and more secrets than spikes on a horny toad lizard. Just about everyone in the town of Dry Gulch wants to tell Sam a secret. But when his hat gets plum full of secrets and won’t stay put on his head, Sam is bumfuzzled and bewildered. How can he keep all those secrets under wraps—and keep the townfolk from going crazy?
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Overview

Under Cowboy Sam’s hat are more secrets than fleas on Doc Peeble’s hound dog, more secrets than peppers on a chili pepper plant, and more secrets than spikes on a horny toad lizard. Just about everyone in the town of Dry Gulch wants to tell Sam a secret. But when his hat gets plum full of secrets and won’t stay put on his head, Sam is bumfuzzled and bewildered. How can he keep all those secrets under wraps—and keep the townfolk from going crazy?
Perfectly matched by Mike Wohnoutka’s comic illustrations, this funny and unexpectedly touching tale will appeal to readers young and old alike.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rootin'-tootin' boot-scootin' fun, beginning to end." Publishers Weekly, Starred

A pleasing, humorous read for young cowboy fans.
School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Caballero wannabes will get a bigger-than-Texas bang out of Griffin and Combs's slangy, twangy debut. Cowboy Sam, the best confidant in Dry Gulch, keeps more secrets under his hat "than fleas on Doc Peeble's hound dog (and that's a whole lot of fleas)." But one day his hat gets so full that it starts popping off his head. While the townspeople worry about what will become of their secrets, Sam tries holding down his hat with horseshoes and a sack of oats, then ties it down with a leather strap and even stands on his head all to no avail. "That hat exploded and blew Sam way up into the air like a wild turkey. All the secrets rocketed into outer space." In the end, there's only one place big enough: Cowboy Sam's heart. The authors embellish this tall tale with a passel of colorful descriptions ("higher than a jackrabbit jumping over a prickly pear cactus") and rhythmic phrases ("He felt more bamboozled than an armadillo without his armor. More dejected than a crawdad without his craw. More lonesome than a Texas ranger without his range"). Wohnoutka's (Counting Sheep) comical acrylic illustrations have a touch of Mark Teague, particularly in their large-as-life perspectives and round, stylized faces, but the palette here is milder, brushed with the soft colors of the Southwest. Rootin'-tootin' boot-scootin' fun, beginning to end. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Cowboy Sam is the most popular man in Dry Gulch. Why? It's because he can keep a secret better than anyone else in town. If someone shares a secret with Sam, he tells them, "I'll keep it under my hat." And that's exactly where the secret goes. One day, however, Sam's hat pops off and refuses to stay on. The townspeople are worried. What will happen to their secrets? Sam is saddened that he has let the town down. But he finds a new place to safeguard secrets, a place that will never get too full. Colorful watercolor illustrations illuminate this lighthearted tale. 2001, Clarion Books, $15.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer:Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Cowboy Sam is the well-loved secret keeper for the town of Dry Gulch, TX. He keeps them all right under his 10-gallon hat. But what happens when it has reached its capacity? Sam's solution is to weigh it down with horseshoes, then a huge bag of oats, and tries tying it onto his head with a leather strap. However, it soon becomes obvious that he needs a new place to store the townspeople's private thoughts and observations. Several people offer suggestions but it's Sam who comes up with the answer. The Western landscape and theme are wonderfully captured by Wohnoutka's cartoon representations of the town and its inhabitants. A pleasing, humorous read for young cowboy fans.-Shara Alpern, The Free Library of Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publisher's Weekly
Caballero wannabes will get a bigger-than-Texas bang out of Griffin and Combs's slangy, twangy debut. Cowboy Sam, the best confidant in Dry Gulch, keeps more secrets under his hat "than fleas on Doc Peeble's hound dog (and that's a whole lot of fleas)." But one day his hat gets so full that it starts popping off his head. While the townspeople worry about what will become of their secrets, Sam tries holding down his hat with horseshoes and a sack of oats, then ties it down with a leather strap and even stands on his head all to no avail. "That hat exploded and blew Sam way up into the air like a wild turkey. All the secrets rocketed into outer space." In the end, there's only one place big enough: Cowboy Sam's heart. The authors embellish this tall tale with a passel of colorful descriptions ("higher than a jackrabbit jumping over a prickly pear cactus") and rhythmic phrases ("He felt more bamboozled than an armadillo without his armor. More dejected than a crawdad without his craw. More lonesome than a Texas ranger without his range"). Wohnoutka's (Counting Sheep) comical acrylic illustrations have a touch of Mark Teague, particularly in their large-as-life perspectives and round, stylized faces, but the palette here is milder, brushed with the soft colors of the Southwest. Rootin'-tootin' boot-scootin' fun, beginning to end. Ages 4-8.
Kirkus Reviews
An agreeable, but essentially slight Texas tall tale about keeping secrets. "Might could be Cowboy Sam was the most favorite man in the whole town of Dry Gulch"-because his capacious hat has become the repository for the townspeople's secrets. But the inevitable happens: one day, he hears one secret too many, and the hat simply will not stay on his head. Neither a stack of horseshoes nor a 25-lb. sack of oats nor the inverted weight of Cowboy Sam himself can contain the secrets, and they all come blasting out, tumbling Cowboy Sam and ripping a hole in the hat. Newcomers Griffin and Combs deliver the narrative in a Texas drawl full of hyperbolic comparisons, most of which are quite fun but some of which don't make much sense (Cowboy Sam is "smart as an armadillo rootin' up insects in the dark"). Wohnoutka's (Counting Sheep, not reviewed) bright acrylics paint Cowboy Sam as a genial W.C. Fields, and the secrets are depicted as swirls of purple. Logical readers will wonder why the townspeople are so concerned about the escape of all the secrets since they still aren't revealed to the general public. Although Cowboy Sam finally realizes he can keep the secrets in his heart, the lack of substance to the threat of the secrets' release makes the whole plot hollow. It's a cute concept, but the incomplete follow-through robs this story of any real interest. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618088546
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/17/2001
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Kitty Griffin is a freelance writer and journalist who has written articles for numerous publications in the Pittsburgh area and currently teaches screenwriting at a local college. She began writing for children in 1991 after being awarded a scholarship to a children's writers workshop at Rice University. She lives with her husband and a menagerie of animals, including a ferret, in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
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