Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

4.0 1
by Anne Isaacs, Kevin Hawkes

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When Widow Tulip Jones of Bore, England, inherits a ranch in By-Golly Gully, Texas, and moves in with two trunks of tea, twelve pet tortoises, and three servants, hilarity ensues. The peaceful life suits the wealthy widow fine until word gets out and every unmarried man in Texas lines up to marry her. Widow Tulip and her small staff of three can't possibly run the…  See more details below


When Widow Tulip Jones of Bore, England, inherits a ranch in By-Golly Gully, Texas, and moves in with two trunks of tea, twelve pet tortoises, and three servants, hilarity ensues. The peaceful life suits the wealthy widow fine until word gets out and every unmarried man in Texas lines up to marry her. Widow Tulip and her small staff of three can't possibly run the farm and manage all the suitors, so she devises a plan—and it just might work. This story filled with giant tortoises, 1,000 brides, bad guys, a smart widow, and even a little romance is sure to get kids laughing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/25/2013
Isaacs (Swamp Angel) teams with Hawkes (The Wicked Big Toddlah) on this Texas humdinger about a wealthy widow and the men vying for her hand. The tall tale opens with a disclaimer (in Texas, “all exaggeration must be restricted to the first twenty-four hours past sunrise”), and an account of how Widow Jones and her three ladies-in-waiting turn her inherited property, By-Golly Ranch, into a desert paradise. “Soon every unmarried man in Texas hoped to marry Tulip Jones—and in 1870, every man in Texas was unmarried.” Widow Jones hires a humble baker, Charlie Doughpuncher, to help her feed the single cowboys who drop by. In pencil-and-acrylic caricatures, Hawkes pictures an unattractive crew of bachelor yokels (leaving the baker as the widow’s obvious choice). Widow Jones’s least appealing beaus are the most persistent: fiendish Sheriff Arroyo, with a live rattlesnake on his hat, and his snaggle-toothed brother Spit. Isaacs’s ability to spin a hyperbolic yarn is as sharp as ever as she chronicles the widow’s schemes to help the lonelyhearts, evade the Arroyo brothers, and round up a criminal gang to boot. Ages 5–9. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Gr 1–4—Isaacs excels at writing tall tales, and readers will not be disappointed by her newest yarn. In 1870, the widow Tulip Jones inherits millions of dollars and a ranch, so she moves from England to By-Golly Gully. She quickly learns that everything is bigger in Texas, including her garden vegetables and her beloved pet tortoises. But her blissful peace is disrupted when word gets around about her rich and unmarried status. Hilarity ensues as the widow comes up with a variety of ways to get rid of the 1000 suitors who line up at her door. Exaggeration is the name of the game from text to illustrations. The story is told in a linear, yet compelling way, and the delightful tongue-twisting narration uses a variety of fun and folksy phrases. Isaacs takes her time, humorously setting the scene through the first few pages, which prepares readers to expect larger-than-life problems and solutions. The characters are exaggerated as well, from the odious suitors to the spunky and independent widow Jones, who takes a proactive approach to solving her problems. Hawkes's painterly illustrations, rendered with acrylic and pencil, feature vast blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and sun-drenched landscapes that firmly establish the setting. These exaggerated visuals match the humorous tone set by the text. At its best when read aloud, this story will also appeal to elementary school kids who will be inspired to create their own tales with over-the-top characters.—Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-07
There's nothing like the unexpected arrival of a millionaire widow to spur a stampede of Texas cowboys. In this terrific tall tale from the author of Swamp Angel (1994) and Dust Devil (2010), it looks like just about everyone is the marrying kind when a rich Englishwoman shows up: "Soon every unmarried man in Texas hoped to marry Tulip Jones--and in 1870, every man in Texas was unmarried." One thousand suitors mean thousands of teatime pastries to fix, so Tulip hires Charlie Doughpuncher to help out. Day and night, the kind baker is there to comfort (and feed scones to) her suitored-out self. Desperate for some peace, Tulip finally concocts several challenges to clear out the gold-digging cowboys, from reversing the flow of the Rio Grande to collecting a pail of stars. But when her plan works, she's all alone. Or is she? Lively storytelling in colorful, drawn-out sentences, Texas-style, makes for a splendid--albeit lengthy--read-aloud. Hawkes' extra-charming soft-focus acrylic-and–colored-pencil artwork on textured paper suits the cactus-filled desert landscape to a T-for-Texas, and the caricatured faces of the snaggletoothed, bewhiskered, beyond-scruffy suitors are downright hilarious. True love is no tall tale in this delightfully overblown story of a plucky widow, a herd of greedy cowboys and a Texas summer so hot the chickens lay hard-boiled eggs. (Picture book. 5-8)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Everything is bigger in Texas and in this original folktale. Tulip Jones discovers this when she arrives there from England in July 1870, having inherited thirty-five million dollars and a ranch at By-Golly Gully. She brings her twelve pet tortoises named for the months of the year and her servants Linsey, Woolsey, and Calico. They arrive in a summer so hot that chickens lay hard-boiled eggs. But Tulip and her servants work hard to plant a garden that yields super-Texas-size produce while the tortoises grow to gallop like horses. When word spreads that the widow Jones has thirty-five million dollars, the line of her suitors is a mile long. How she settles her problems makes for a hilarious happy ending. The naturalistic illustrations, created with Open acrylics and Prismacolor pencil, bring all the comic exaggerations to life across the mainly double pages. The tasks she sets for the suitors add to the fun. Do not miss the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 5 to 9.

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
AD970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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Meanwhile Back at the Ranch 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
K picked this book up from his school library. Even though I enjoyed the book I do not think K did. I didn't read the blurb when he brought the book home I just looked at the cover and was like oh wow giant tortoises how fun will this book be.  You have Widow Tulip who has a farm and the farm grows BIG things which I thought was awesome. But then in comes the talk about marriage, suitors are coming up to marry this Widow and she sets them on tasks which are pretty cool.  K only thought the giant tortoises, the food and how the millions of ducks were in the river was awesome. Other than that I think the story kind of flew over his head as to what it was about. Overall a fun read for those that like Tall Tales!