cover image Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story

Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story

G. Brian Karas. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80156-3

Poor Ned. A swamp is no place for a cowboy, but his mother wants the two of them to live closer to Granpa, so the swamp is where he's stuck. As if moving weren't bad enough, Ned's lasso has broken and he has to use a garden hose instead; to top it off, Big Head Ed, the bully at his new school, calls him ""cowpie."" Debuting as an author, prolific illustrator Karas (Mr. Carey's Garden) scores a bull's-eye, zeroing in on the uncertainty children feel when transplanted to unfamiliar territory. Borrowing a cowpoke wit (""Ned would rather eat cactus spines than answer his mom""), he keeps readers laughing at Ned's predicament, cheering at showdown time and all the while sympathizing wholeheartedly with Ned's situation. The wry drawings, softly shaded in the muted earth tones of the bayou, are the icing on the cake. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)