Toughest Cowboy: or How the Wild West Was Tamedby John Frank, Zachary Pullen
How do you tame the roughest, toughest pack of cowboys to ever ride the open range?
Publishers WeeklyWith a mixture of tall-tale exaggeration and the plot of a silly campfire yarn, this tongue-in-cheek story about a quartet of tough cowboys may appeal more to grown-ups than to the picture-book crowd. Frank (The Tomb of the Boy King) peoples the story with adult characters and strikes a hyperbolic tone (the hero, Grizz, "drank a quart of Tabasco sauce a day, flossed his teeth with barbed wire, and kept a rattlesnake in his bedroll to cool his feet at night"). Unfortunately, the book's story line seems contrived to deliver the theme-you can teach an old cowpoke new tricks. When Grizz brings Foofy home, the meticulously groomed poodle changes the lives of all four cowboys as the canine wins over the skeptical fellows and they develop new skills in caring for her. While dog lovers may understand the cowhands' change of heart, the text never charts the characters' development enough to pave the way for their metamorphosis. It's first-time illustrator Pullen's oil paintings, featuring the characters' close-up animated faces and reflecting a broad humor, that chronicle the men's transformation. The large-sized heads of the characters seem to combine the jowly faces of grizzled B-movie character actors with the kind of caricatures found in political cartoons. Through the artist's portraits, readers can almost watch the men's hard edges soften in the company of their new pet. Ages 6-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library JournalK-Gr 4-Tall tales this enjoyable are hard to find. Grizz Brickbottom, toughest cowboy in the West, yearns for a companion and convinces his cattle-rustling cohorts that they need a dog to help with the work. When the local saloon goes out of business, the proprietor puts up a sign offering a free dog to a good home. Unexpectedly, it's a miniature poodle named Foofy. Although the pup is afraid of cows and won't chase away mountain lions, she provides complete amusement for the cowpokes because she catches flying tin dinner plates in her mouth. Children will revel in the descriptive language ("Don't squat with your spurs on") and exaggerated metaphors and similes. Gross visual and verbal jokes abound ("S'not the point"). The oil-rendered paintings are spot-on renditions of the Wild West and will transport the audience to the Big Sky Country of the 1860s. Close-ups of faces are larger than life. Readers will return to this one again and again to catch all of the humor and nuances of both the text and illustrations. A strong first purchase that is suited to independent reading and sharing aloud.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >