cover image The Cowboy and the Blackeyed Pea

The Cowboy and the Blackeyed Pea

Tony Johnston, Warren Ludwig. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.99 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22330-3

This vivacious picture book gives an engaging Western slant to the familiar tale of ``The Princess and the Pea.'' When Farethee Well, ``a young woman of bodacious beauty,'' inherits her father's considerable estate, a parade of men seek the comely lass's hand in marriage. But the savvy Texan has a foolproof method for screening her suitors--she places a black-eyed pea beneath each man's saddle blanket, knowing that a true cowboy, sensing such an irritant, will ``bruise like the petals of a desert rose.'' Colorful lingo associated with the Lone Star state peppers Johnston's clever retelling. Ludwig's pencil and watercolor illustrations are serviceable but undistinguished. His human faces exhibit a range of appropriate emotions, but the renderings of horse and cattle seem overly cute, and commercial, and the palette is occasionally muddy. The quirky change of setting and the strong female protagonist, however, prove entertaining. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)