cover image Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph

Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph

Lucy Margaret Rozier, illus. by Leo Espinosa. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-37843-7

Born on the Great Plains in the early 19th century, ginger-haired Jackrabbit McCabe has preternaturally long legs that make him a natural-born runner and a hometown hero: “By the time he turned eighteen, he’d beat every stagecoach, antelope, and locomotive in the territory.” But his fleet-footedness is no match for the newfangled telegraph, which decisively beats him in a challenge to deliver a message to a town 25 miles away. “Jackrabbit felt lower than a snake’s navel,” but he soon discovers an upside: the telegraph requires swift fingers to work the keys and swift legs to hand-deliver messages. Rozier makes a strikingly accomplished debut; her appropriately brisk prose has the perfect blend of folksy lilt and knowing wink. Espinosa (Otis and Rae and the Grumbling Splunk) is just as successful: his crisply angular drawings, comic expressiveness, and cinematic framings bring to mind Chuck Jones’s classic “Dover Boys” cartoon. It’s a terrific tall tale about the costs and opportunities of technology, and it may assuage a few parents worried about its impact on their own offspring’s future employability. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)