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May 24, 2015

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Pick of the Day: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

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Isaacs, Anne. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch coverMeanwhile, Back at the Ranch. illus. by Kevin Hawkes. 56p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375867453. LC 2011046490.
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 1,000 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 Window 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

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