Cowboys

Cowboys

by David L. Harrison, Dan Burr
     
 


The life of a cowboy driving a cattle herd was hard. It took a person with grit to drive a thousand head of longhorns along the Chisholm Trail. Cowboys faced badlands, lightning storms, and deadly twisters. But they also found time to swap stories around the campfire. David L. Harrison has created a cast of tough-as-leather cowboys who speak their minds in… See more details below

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Overview


The life of a cowboy driving a cattle herd was hard. It took a person with grit to drive a thousand head of longhorns along the Chisholm Trail. Cowboys faced badlands, lightning storms, and deadly twisters. But they also found time to swap stories around the campfire. David L. Harrison has created a cast of tough-as-leather cowboys who speak their minds in twenty-two entertaining poems, brought to life by Dan Burr’s dramatic paintings. Readers follow the cowboys from roundup on a ranch in Texas to the one-thousand-mile trek to market in Abilene, Kansas, where they finally let loose.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a companion to Harrison and Burr’s Pirates (2008), first-person poems from the perspectives of several cowboys create a candid portrait of life out west, following a cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail. Harrison’s work includes traveling songs with a lullaby lilt (“One thousand miles/ of burnin’ sun,/ swollen rivers,/ stampedes, wolves/ three thousand cows,/ fifteen men,/ one thousand miles to go”) and upbeat poems in peppery dialect: “Ha!/ My granny’s quicker’n you/ and she’s eighty!/ Reckon that grizz’d/ be pickin’ his teeth by now.” Burr’s dramatically lit, realistic digital artwork nails the determined expressions of hard-working cowboys while creating a character in the sweeping prairie landscape. Readers who long to ride and wrangle should be entranced. Ages 7–9. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
The folklore of the American West is imprinted on our national psyche. From books, to the movies, to television and beyond, good frontier stories have captured our collective imagination. Now comes an outstanding addition to that canon: a picture book with poems about the everyday lives of cowboys driving cattle from Texas to Kansas. The short poems are written in colloquial language and are mostly in free verse, although some rhyme and others are in dialog form. They cover the cowboy's lot: mending fences, branding, living in bunkhouses, riding on the trail, chasing down strays, surviving storms, and the town life of Abilene. There is no glorification of violence in this book, because, as the trail boss says, "No whiskey, guns, or knives in camp." The hard work of the cowboy—and he could be white, black, Hispanic, Indian or immigrant—was romantic enough in its singular mission: survival, and delivering the cattle to Kansas. As for the illustrations, they are large and vivid enough to be photographs. The use of color and light is superb. Almost any one of the pictures could be framed and hung on a wall, if one could bear to cut them out, which is doubtful. This isn't just a boy's book. There is a poem about a girl who would like to be riding the range but won't be allowed to; her illustration is one of the best. At the end of the book is a short essay on "Who Were the Cowboys?" which the reader will not want to miss. Calling this just a picture book for youngsters is an injustice, for readers of all ages will be moved by the poems and amazed by the illustrations. It is a big book, as big as the cattle drives it describes, and it deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—Similar in format to this pair's Pirates (Boyds Mills, 2008), these 22 poems depict the rough-and-tumble life of cowboys. All aspects of life on the range are addressed in heavy vernacular, which may somewhat limit the appeal to older readers or those with regional interest. For example in "Branded," "Some days I could beller myself,/only boss don't cotton/to crybaby cowboys,/and I'm a fur piece from home." "The Lesson" describes a despairing (and possibly drunken) cowboy losing all his earnings in a single game of cards. Though modern-day subjects were used as the models for the large and bright digital paintings, these are historical images showing vivid scenes of the rugged cattle drive from Texas to Abilene. Though an author's note explains that cowboys were an incredibly diverse group, including blacks, Mexicans, and Indians, only two poems specifically describe an African American and a "cowgirl." There are very few books of cowboy poetry for children, and this one definitely seems geared for the older set or even adults. A teacher might use these vignettes as a jumping off point for discussion on the topic of the Old West. Purchase if you have the demand—Madeline J Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Free-verse cowpoke ruminations on the trail to Abilene, with paintings of long-horned dogies and grizzled riders beneath big skies. Saddle up, pardner, leave the bunkhouse (where "[b]ugs gnaw plugs right outta your hide") behind and look fer dusty days, freezing nights, rattlers, storms and meal after meal of beef and beans from Cookie. Harking back to cattle drives of yesteryear, Burr portrays leather-skinned figures with near-photographic realism. "You need sand in your gizzard / to wrangle wild cows, / chaps for fendin' off thorns / or horses with a taste / for cowpoke leg." They pose in full regalia, branding a calf, mending barbed wire, gazing up at the stars, trying desperately to stay on horseback amid a stampede, lazing around the chuck wagon, riding at last into town and ruefully bidding hard-earned wages goodbye at a poker table. Two saloon floozies at the end, a dark-skinned trailhand ("I'm on a journey of my own / figuring how it feels / to be free") and a spirited filly in blue jeans left back at the ranch to fulminate are the only ones here who aren't typecast Marlboro Men. So git along, there, anyone with a mind to share cowboy dreams in romanticized, Old West style. (afterword) (Poetry. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590788776
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
04/01/2012
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
1,199,603
Product dimensions:
11.30(w) x 11.22(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
7 - 9 Years

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