HANNAH MAE O'HANNIGAN'S WILD WEST SHOW

Lisa Campbell Ernst, Author, Lisa Campbell Ernst, Illustrator . S&S $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-85191-9

Packing a pencil and pastel inks, Ernst (Stella Louella's Runaway Book) rustles up a tale fit for any cowgirl—urban or otherwise. The heroine's debut is wryly understated—a pair of baby feet poke out from under the brim of a huge pink cowboy hat sent by "dear Uncle Coot from way out West." Ernst milks every drop of humor out of this situation comedy, as Hannah Mae evolves into a cowgirl wannabe with hopelessly urban parents who wear pearls and bow ties. But they support her passion, buying her a pony and hamsters so she can emulate "cow herdin' and general cattle care" to prepare her for Uncle Coot's ranch. Those skills prove handy when a boxcar out west spills hamsters that terrorize her uncle's cattle. Hannah Mae corrals the critters and launches a traveling hamster show. A winsome mix of wit and sympathy inspires such scenes as when Hannah, a small figure duded up in boots and hat, stares forlornly at the wall of skyscrapers outside her window. Judiciously used patois ("He's shakin' like the music-end of a rattler") brings zest to the text without overpowering it. So, too, with the mellow-toned palette that quietly anchors drawings so organically funny that simple inkstrokes turn a pack of rodents into hilariously mean-faced marauders. Ages 4-8. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/12/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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