Five minutes after his birth, Johnny Kaw is over six feet tall and still growing. When he outgrows his crib and even their town, his parents decide to move west where "little" Johnny can have plenty of room to play. After the family crosses the wide Missouri River to Kansas, Johnny sits down to play with his dog. His bottom ends up making the valley where his family will settle. And when Johnny clears stones from a field so his father can plow, he ends up creating the Rocky Mountains in the process. The legendary...
Five minutes after his birth, Johnny Kaw is over six feet tall and still growing. When he outgrows his crib and even their town, his parents decide to move west where "little" Johnny can have plenty of room to play. After the family crosses the wide Missouri River to Kansas, Johnny sits down to play with his dog. His bottom ends up making the valley where his family will settle. And when Johnny clears stones from a field so his father can plow, he ends up creating the Rocky Mountains in the process. The legendary folk hero shapes the state's landscape by carving out valleys and creating prairies with his bare hands. Why, he even takes on a tornado when it threatens the family farm. Kansas native Devin Scillian spins a rollicking, rhyming yarn based on the tall tale of Johnny Kaw. Comedic, exaggerated artwork from artist Brad Sneed brings this character to BIG life.
There was no doubt that Johnny Kaw was a whopping big baby already six-foot two on the day of his birth and he continued to grow and grow. To find land for a farm big enough for Johnny, his family relocated west of the Missouri River. With Johnny, the trip for the family was far easier then it was for most. Johnny simply carrying the Comstock wagon, horse, Mom and Dad. Pulling huge boulders from the ground, Johnny simply tossed them into the air, thus forming the Rocky Mountains. With one blow of his breath, seeds were scattered that resulted in acres of wheat fields. Johnny could wring rain out of a twister and wrestle a cyclone to the ground. Every day was perfect for Johnny who with his mighty scythe cleared land in Kansas, the Dakotas and all the way down into Texas. As he grew older he had to face the greatest sadness of his life, the death of his dear mother. Yet in the stillness of the land, he could still feel her spirit. Always with a smile on his face and love in his gigantic heart for his parents his legend lives on in the golden fields he so deeply cared for. This rollicking tall tale also has beauty and tenderness within it that is finely honed and balanced. There is wild exaggeration tucked within the warm humor that will elicit lots of giggles. Like Johnny, the illustrations are larger-than-life and some pages can barely contain his lanky frame. The whimsical tale begs to be read aloud with lyrical rhythm and rhyme. Pair this with another original tale, such as, Anne Isaac's story of a monumental heroine, Swamp Angel (Dutton, 1994), for a whopping good adventure on a grand scale. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—This folk hero is larger-than-life in every sense of the word. In an effort to find a farm big enough for their boy, who seems to "gain a pound every hour," the Kaw family heads westward. After crossing the Missouri River into what will become Kansas, the Kaws feel that they have found a home. In true tall-tale fashion, Johnny then clears the land by hand and thus creates the Rocky Mountains; stands up to and tames a cyclone with his scythe; and, with a single breath, plants "miles and miles" of wheat. Prairie life is sweet for the devoted family, but the passing of time brings the inevitable passing of Johnny's beloved mother. The story ends on a positive note, however, with Johnny acknowledging that her strong spirit will always be with him. The book is written in rhythmic prose that lends itself to read-alouds as well as independent reading. Sneed's full-color illustrations in his exaggerated style serve the tale well and showcase not only the humor but also its tenderness. The story should have broad appeal in the Sunflower State, but readers in the rest of the country will also enjoy getting acquainted with this gentle giant.—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY