FICTION

Cowboys

48p. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. 2012. RTE $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-877-6. LC 2011939946.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5 Up—Similar in format to this pair's Pirates (Boyds Mills, 2008), these 22 poems depict the rough-and-tumble life of cowboys. All aspects of life on the range are addressed in heavy vernacular, which may somewhat limit the appeal to older readers or those with regional interest. For example in "Branded," "Some days I could beller myself,/only boss don't cotton/to crybaby cowboys,/and I'm a fur piece from home." "The Lesson" describes a despairing (and possibly drunken) cowboy losing all his earnings in a single game of cards. Though modern-day subjects were used as the models for the large and bright digital paintings, these are historical images showing vivid scenes of the rugged cattle drive from Texas to Abilene. Though an author's note explains that cowboys were an incredibly diverse group, including blacks, Mexicans, and Indians, only two poems specifically describe an African American and a "cowgirl." There are very few books of cowboy poetry for children, and this one definitely seems geared for the older set or even adults. A teacher might use these vignettes as a jumping off point for discussion on the topic of the Old West. Purchase if you have the demand—Madeline J Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
This compilation of twenty-two poems presents a clear image of cowboy life by touching on issues such as branding, the bunkhouse, stampedes, and cattle drives. The free verse, written in country vernacular, is rhythmic and filled with genuine-feeling details. Burr's digital paintings create a rugged southwestern setting of hardship, toil, and beauty. An addendum on cowboy history extends the offering.

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