cover image Cowboy Dreams

Cowboy Dreams

Kathi Appelt. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027763-5

To the soothing accompaniment of Root's (Someplace Else) moonlit prairie scenery, Appelt composes a lullaby for young buckaroos. As a soft sundown casts grassy hills in glowing orange, a blond boy in western attire ambles home to his mother's calls. He hangs up his white cowboy hat and slips under his covers. With a ""Shhhhhh...,"" the scene shifts to a chuckwagon, a herd of sleepy steers and a crowd of cowhands lazing around a campfire. Despite the range-riding theme, there is no hooting or hollering. The boy rides up on a graceful palomino pony and dismounts quietly. A radiant pale-yellow moon gazes gently upon the tired group: ""Close your eyes now, li'l pardner,/ lasso up those cowboy dreams./ La Luna's warmed your blanket/ in her satin silver beams."" Appelt (Bat Jamboree) captures the romance of the bronco life in drawled, alliterative rhymes, and she spices her verse with a Tex-Mex flavor (""La Luna casts her lantern light/ across the chaparral""). Root's peaceful spreads, rendered in beefy brushstrokes of earth-tone gouache, evoke the same sundown hush as the text. Coyotes watch the campsite from a nearby rock, and a rusty-brown whippoorwill darts across a blue-green, starry firmament. Readers of Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben's And If the Moon Could Talk will find the same tranquillity, albeit transplanted to a serene outdoor setting with sleeping bags and a crackling fire. Ages 4-7. (Feb.)