cover image WILL ROGERS: An American Legend

WILL ROGERS: An American Legend

Frank Keating, Francis Anthony Keating, , illus. by Mike Wimmer. . Harcourt/Silver Whistle, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202405-5

The folksy, adventurous Oklahoma-born newspaper columnist and celebrated wit who never met a man he didn't like takes center stage in this admiring if impressionistic picture book biography. Oklahoma governor Keating emphasizes Rogers's personality in place of much expository information, quoting him on nearly every page ("They may call me a rube and a hick, but I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it"). An evocation of Rogers's childhood in Indian Territory, where he learned "to ride and rope as well as any boy or man" and also to love books, abruptly yields to a scene of Rogers suddenly grown up and traveling by plane "everywhere he could" and "always joking and sharing with others the humor and joy of living." Readers are almost certain to want more of an explanation of Rogers's career, but it does not come. Wimmer (Summertime) makes excellent use of both natural and interior light in his realistic oil paintings, capturing the beauty of Rogers's native state as well as his lively spirit. The book design plays up the homey western theme, with linked horseshoes branding bold W's on the endpapers and the text presented as a series of pages pulled out of an old manual typewriter. Ages 6-9. (Aug.)