cover image Rattlesnake Stew

Rattlesnake Stew

Lynn Rowe Reed. Farrar Straus Giroux, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36190-7

Billy is napping quietly when a wind picks him up and drops him ``into a camp of cantankerous cowboys.'' These guys sing, pick their guitars, dance, snatch ``stars from the sky'' and rope the moon. Grizzlies and prancing dogs cavort nearby. The reader doesn't get a good look at this frenetic activity, since it is all too claustrophobically close--children need a little more eye contact with the characters. The fun ends when Mom appears, though she does tempt her son with rattlesnake stew, apparently a cowboy favorite. The western theme of Reed's debut book has some appeal, but her highly stylized story and art--rounded, nonrealistic characters sporting pointy hands and feet, and textured clothing--may be off-putting. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)