cover image A WILD COWBOY


Garen Eileen Thomas, Dana Kessimakis Smith, Dana Kessimakis Smith, , illus. by Laura Freeman. . Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-1931-7

For a city boy who loves playing cowboy, it's happy trails when he and his "pardner" (his younger brother) go to Grandma's apartment for the day. Freeman (Jazz Baby ) comes up with some fun scenarios to accompany debut author Smith's text. An exciting cattle drive involves herding Grandma's new litter of puppies before they tangle with the neighborhood alley cats; the campfire "grub" (popcorn by the cozy fireplace while Grandma plays guitar) is mighty fine, too. At dusk, when "the coyotes sing with a moan" (the howling, now-corralled puppies), Mom and Dad take the boys back home, where the "buckaroo" soon rides off into the sunset of slumber, dreaming he is "a wild cowboy/ Who sleeps beneath the moon." The story is slight, and the plainspoken, literally descriptive rhymes do little more than act as captions to the pictures. But Freeman's expressive characters, featuring a family with an African-American father and an Asian mother, the energetic perspectives and rich, dense colors bring the boy's Wild West yearnings to life. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)