cover image The Legend of Lightning Larry

The Legend of Lightning Larry

Aaron Shepard. Atheneum Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19433-2

Shepard pulls out all the B-western cliches for this tale of a do-goodin' stranger wearing a yella hat and two unusual six-shooters. When the outlaws of a dusty town called Brimstone get a load of Larry, they know he's one pesky varmint. For one thing, he smiles too much, and not only that, he prefers lemonade over more bracing beverages. One by one, Crooked Curt, Stinky Steve, and the most ferocious critter of all, Evil-Eye McNeevil, wind up in showdowns with Larry; they consider him especially dangerous because his guns don't shoot bullets, just magic bolts of gold light that turn bad guys into neighborly folks. Goffe's animated illustrations feature conventional Wild West scenes, with movie-set storefronts and scruffy townsfolk. (Unfortunately, though there are a few buffalo gals, no Calamity Janes are in sight.) While it's safe to assume that children will have played cowboys before reading this book, parents should be forewarned of the amount of gunplay here. Weapons used in the name of peace send a mixed message, even in such an agreeable work. Ages 6-8. (Mar.)