cover image A Brand Is Forever

A Brand Is Forever

Ann Herbert Scott. Clarion Books, $12.95 (46pp) ISBN 978-0-395-60118-1

As branding day on the ranch draws near, Annie grows increasingly apprehensive. Her beloved pet calf, Doodle, will be marked with the searing iron for the first time, and her older brother has dared her to keep her eyes open throughout the whole distressing episode. Scott's ( On Mother's Lap ; Someday Rider ) somewhat rambling account of this traditional western event--an engaging and uncommon picture-book topic--demonstrates an affecting folksiness and restraint that gradually draw readers in. Flashback sequences relating the history of Annie's family and of her relationship with Doodle flesh out the story and add an inviting verisimilitude. Both the narrative itself and an informative endnote about brands open a window on a way of life sure to be unfamiliar to many. Readers will pull for girl and calf as they both emerge victorious from their respective ordeals. Himler's ( Fly Away Home ; The Wall ) pastel-toned watercolors offer an atmospheric portrayal of open country, horses and cattle; their subdued tone nicely suits the story's laid-back--though deeply felt--emotionality. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)