cover image RHYOLITE: The True Story of a Ghost Town

RHYOLITE: The True Story of a Ghost Town

Diane Siebert, , illus. by David Frampton. . Clarion, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-09673-2

Siebert's (Mojave) insistent beat seems perfectly pitched for this brief history of Rhyolite, Nev., a boomtown founded in 1904 that went bust six years later. She packs her rhythmic narrative with nuggets of information about the gold mining municipality's rapid rise and demise. "Wheels and hooves and human feet/ All made their way down Golden Street;/ .../ While fifty woolly, wild saloons/ Were filled with tipplers, talk, and tunes." Frampton's (My Beastie Book of ABC: Rhymes and Woodcuts) trademark woodcuts conjure the desert's dust and heat, their heavily outlined images stark against ochre backdrops and colorized with muted purples, greens and sunset orange. Ornate, symmetrical borders feature desert animals, mining cars and townsfolk, while facing pages contain full-page illustrations just as scrupulous in their attention to detail. One shows the multicultural effort behind the town's construction: men of many ethnic backgrounds work side by side to lay water pipes and raise wooden beams. The industrious scenes evince a Broadway show–like bounce, with eager expressions on the people's faces and angular presentations of repeated images. The townsfolk even appear to haul in the scenery—at the beginning, they lead in from the left-hand side of the spread; when they leave town, they exit from the right. A haunting riff (through it all, "The coyotes watched with laughing eyes"; "The coyotes heard what coyotes hear") culminates in the coyotes' eventual "take-over" of the ghost town. Readers can mine additional anecdotes from a concluding author's note. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)