Cowgirls & Dinosaurs: Big Trouble in Little Spittle

Penguin/Razorbill. Sept. 2023. 288p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780593115145.
Gr 4-6–In a fantasy “old west,” settlers and dinosaurs live together. Archeologists digging at a site discover a calcified heart that still beats and emits a malevolent aura called “dinomagik.” Small town Little Spittle is where the League of Sheriffs decide to hide this artifact. Deputy Clementine, whose dad is the sheriff, meets up with crime fighter orphan Abigail and her trusty dino-steed Rootbeer. These unlikely allies develop a working relationship, and eventually a friendship. Their main nemesis is the Bandit Queen and her three brothers. Having robbed the archeologists, the Bandit Queen discovers that the ring she stole has dinomagik and uses it to break her criminal brothers (who made a failed attempt to steal the heart) out of jail. She also kidnaps all the townsfolk for good measure. In the fray, Clementine ends up with the heart and takes off in search of Abigail. They must team up to confront the Bandit Queen and save their town. Bright colors and panels of every shape and size contribute to the dynamic look and pace. Racially diverse and LGBTQIA+ characters add modern touches to western tropes.
VERDICT A solid purchase where fantasy adventures are popular. Give this to fans of Shannon Hale’s Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack.

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