One of the reasons I miss library visits is the serendipity of pulling something off the shelf and finding a gem. Sure, you can scope out books online, do keyword searches and read blogs to find what's new and great. But those oldies, the ones that are no longer at the forefront of every reviewer's list? Those are the kinds of books I love to stumble across. And for those encounters, there's really no substitute for an in-person shelf browse.
Sprout found today's pick himself on one of our last library trips. What's interesting is that even though I'm familiar with the publisher and the illustrator, Laura Freeman, I'd never heard of this one: A Wild Cowboy by Dana Kessimakis Smith. And it couldn't have been a better choice on Sprout's part because he's right in the thick of an imaginative phase, where "I'm a dinosaur" and "I'm a fireman" are everyday occurrences for us. So this tale of a young boy casting himself in the role of a cowboy was spot on.
Our hero is off for a visit at Grandma's with his little brother. Pretty straightforward, right? No way, pardner! Because our narrator is a "real live buckaroo", and as he describes his day it's all about cowboy life. There's blazing a trail (walking to Grandma's), rounding up the herd (chasing Grandma's puppies around the yard), eatin' grub (popcorn and juice boxes). This is a real serious gig for our cowpoke, who takes his duties and his cowboy leisure time quite seriously.
Smith's use of wild west lingo paired with Freeman's winsome illustrations makes for a very sweet reading experience. Sprout loved pointing out the silliness, like when the cowboy rides on his mama's back, pretending she's his horse (Sprout thought that was hilarious). I loved that the family in question is multiracial -- as I've said many times, there's a real need for depictions of diverse families in everyday settings, and this title fills the bill nicely. Best of all, this is a title that little ones will clamor to hear, with its steady rhymes and comforting yet interesting pictures. And moms and dads will find it just as fun too. After all, who wouldn't want to go along on this trail ride?
We'll be on the lookout for Smith and Freeman's other title, A Brave Spaceboy, during our next library trip - which I think I'm going to make an appointment for, so we don't miss it!
A Wild Cowboy by Dana Kessimakis Smith, published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion
Sample: "We set up camp, this cowboy's home / A fire flickers and pops / I find some grub, some cowboy food / I eat till the rumblin' stops"
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