Little Britches and the Rattlers

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Little Britches saddles her pony and heads out for the rodeo. She hopes to win first prize in the calf-roping contest. Along the way, she meets seven cunning rattlesnakes. One by one, they threaten to eat her up! But Little Britches is smart. She knows how to bargain with those rattlesnakes and come out on top! Endearing graphite, watercolor, and digital illustrations by Vincent Nguyen bring this southwestern romp to an outlandish finish.

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Little Britches saddles her pony and heads out for the rodeo. She hopes to win first prize in the calf-roping contest. Along the way, she meets seven cunning rattlesnakes. One by one, they threaten to eat her up! But Little Britches is smart. She knows how to bargain with those rattlesnakes and come out on top! Endearing graphite, watercolor, and digital illustrations by Vincent Nguyen bring this southwestern romp to an outlandish finish.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Guide
In this Little Black Sambo takeoff, Little Britches, on her way to the rodeo, encounters rattlesnakes who threaten to "s-s-swaller" her up. The clever cowgirl trades them items of clothing, and the rattlers argue over who's finest. Little Britches's resourcefulness is to be commended, and the earthy palette of the funny illustrations of snakes in Western gear complements the desert setting.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kimmel's story echoes Little Black Sambo, but the locale is Texas and the heroine is Little Britches, riding her pony on her way to try for first prize in the calf-roping contest at the rodeo. She encounters seven rattlesnakes on the journey, each one threatening to "ssswaller [her] up!" To each, she offers a piece of her clothing instead. By the time she meets the seventh, "longer and bigger than all the others put together," Little Britches has no clothes left. "You may as well eat me," she says. But the snake takes her "fine red boots" instead. Now, left with only her long johns and bandana, Little Britches is ready to give up and go home. Then she sees all the rattlers together, boasting and arguing. In the ensuing fight, they "swallered themselves up." Little Britches is free to reclaim her clothes and go on to win first prize in the calf roping. The graphite, watercolor and digital illustrations create the cactus country with its rocks and barren vistas, a landscape suited to the actions of a feisty young cowgirl and a passel of lively snakes with almost-human faces. The tale is told with some vernacular language and humor. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Patrick Hunter
In this new twist on the old tale of Little Black Sambo, the action happens in the American west, a rodeo-going little girl replaces Sambo and rattlesnakes replace the tigers. Little Britches is on her way to the rodeo to compete in calf roping. Along the way, she meets rattlesnakes that hiss they are going to s-s-s-swaller her up. Only by offering a piece of her clothing does Little Britches make it past each snake. Finally, she is left with just her long johns and a red bandana. That is, until she comes upon the snakes arguing about who looks best in their new duds. Throwing down the clothes, the snakes chase each other, eventually swallering each other up. That leaves Little Britches to reclaim her clothes—and win the first prize in calf roping. As her trophy, she picks out a shiny belt buckle with a rattlesnake on it. Kimmel does a good job updating the setting and characters. The best part of the update is the girl heroine in a role normally reserved for cowboys (especially one who chooses a reptile buckle at the end). The book is also good for teaching some counting aspects and clothing names. Little Britches meets one snake in the first encounter, two in the second, and three in the third. Little Britches removes a hat, gloves, and blouse as well as some items that cowboy/cowgirl fanatics will recognize, such as a vest and chaps. The illustrations are great, contrasting the earthen hues of the background with the colors of the snakes and Little Britches in the foreground. The only problem with the illustrations is that Little Britches' pony looks to be scowling in almost every picture. It's possible that the penultimate illustration, of Britches' roped calf maydismay those deeply aligned with PETA or other animal welfare leagues. Still, this is a great book for those who may be in the American West today or who are looking for horse stories or stories with a strong female character. Reviewer: Patrick Hunter
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1

Little Britches heads out to the rodeo where she hopes to do well in calf roping. Along the way, however, she meets seven rattlesnakes, each of whom she appeases by handing over a piece of her fancy cowgirl attire. A twist of fate returns the duds and she wins at the rodeo. Set in the Texas desert, the illustrations are rendered in muted browns, golds, reds, and blues. Little Britches looks like a spunky preschooler with determination written all over her postures and face. The colorful snakes look wily and ridiculous when dressed in her duds. A fun read-aloud.-Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Kimmel's latest retells Little Black Sambo with a Southwestern flavor. As Little Britches saddles her pony and heads out to a calf-roping contest, she decides to take a shortcut through the dry gulch. When her journey is interrupted several times by rattlesnakes who threaten to "s-s-swaller" her up, the quick-thinking, pint-sized cowgirl offers up her doeskin vest, chaps, red boots and other attire in exchange for permission to mosey along. While the little girl hides her feelings behind understated facial expressions, the vibrantly colored snakes, ridiculously tricked-out in Little Britches's clothing, stand out against the pale background in Nguyen's digitally enhanced graphite-and-watercolor illustrations. As in the original story, the vain rattlers' argument over the best outfit leads to a mad, circular, ultimately fatal chase (although there's no rattlesnake-butter at the end, readers may be relieved to discover). Can this adaptation, thoroughly divorced from its origins by complete lack of mention in any note, cool off children's literature's hottest potato? Maybe-for a blissfully ignorant audience, it's a rattling fun tale. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761454328
  • Publisher: Cavendish Square Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Pages: 29
  • Sales rank: 715,534
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2010

    Snake-a-riffic Fun!

    Delightful short and simple tale of a little cowgirl travelin' to the rodeo to do some calf-ropin'. Her trail is truly snakey when she meets 1, then 2, then 3, then 1 gigantic rattler wanting to swallow her whole. This savvy kiddo offers them her brand new rodeo clothes til all she has left is her longjohn underwear and a bandanna, but she's escaped! She meets those snakey scoundrels again for a Texas size smile of an ending. PreK-2 kiddos will love this book!

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