cover image Nell Nuggett and the Cow Caper

Nell Nuggett and the Cow Caper

Judith Ross Enderle. Simon & Schuster, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80502-8

With a ""Yippee-yi-yo!"" and a ""Yippee-yi-yay!,"" Enderle and Tessler (co-authors of Francis the Earthquake Dog) round up cowpoke-genre cliches in this tale of a cattle rustler. Nell Nugget, sporting a ""five-gallon hat,"" tends 48 black-and-white cows, but her 49th--a brassy-yellow-spotted steer named Goldie--is her favorite. (Enumerating the two-tone animals, all carefully crowded onto double-page spreads, may remind readers of counting the 101 dalmatians.) When Goldie is kidnapped by the West's ""baddest badman,"" Nasty Galoot, Nell hurries to the rescue. She drags a piano onto the range and summons her herd with ""campfire songs""; the villain escapes the stampede only by ""ker-plop""-ing into ""Muddy Mud Creek."" Enderle and Tessler enjoy slinging silly names, like that of the unhelpful Sheriff Doolittle. However, their desert-dry dialogue--punctuated by Nell's bland ""ha, ha, ha"" and Nasty's ""ho, ho, ho""--falls as flat as the onomatopoeic ""clip, cloppity, clip"" of Pay Dirt's hooves. Yalowitz (Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch) contributes his trademark grainy colored pencil illustrations. He works in the sand-and-cactus shades of the American Southwest, but his gentle landscapes don't whip much life into the humdrum western plot. Ages 4-8. (May)