cover image Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope

Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope

Lisa Moser, illus. by Sebastiaan Van Doninck. Random, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-87056-9

A horse is a horse, of course, except when it’s a rhinoceros. That’s the silly, unstated backstory in Moser’s upbeat tale about a kind young cowboy’s unwavering faith in his trusted mount. When Cowboy Boyd rides onto the Double R ranch atop his horned “horse,” Calliope, the pair has everyone scratching their heads. Rancher Rose and ranch hands Slim and Hardtack agree that Calliope is the shortest, dustiest, and lumpiest horse they’ve ever seen—she’s also slow, clumsy, and unwittingly destructive. “I got a real strong belief in Calliope,” Boyd maintains, and a crisis on the ranch gives Calliope a chance to prove she’s worthy of such support. With easy-flowing dialogue and lots of onomatopoeia (“Calliope plodded to the pasture and... BLAM! Straight through the pasture fence”), Moser (Railroad Hank) plays Boyd’s sweet naiveté against the ranchers’ deadpan expressions of concern to great humorous effect. Belgian illustrator Van Doninck, in his U.S. debut, contributes comic figures with long, rubbery limbs who mosey across mustard landscapes dotted with mesas and cacti, consistently keeping readers in on the joke of Calliope’s lineage. Ages 3–7. (Aug.)