cover image DUSTY LOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

DUSTY LOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

Susan Lowell, Author, Randy Cecil, Illustrator , illus. by Randy Cecil. Holt $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5862-8

Right from the start, readers can tell that this cowboy boot–wearing heroine is a wild'un. Even on the copyright page, she kicks up a huge trail of dust as she determinedly chases a skunk into the woods. Dusty Locks "hadn't had a bath for a month of Sundays" and runs away from home without stopping to kiss her mother good-bye. So it comes as no surprise that this spunky gal hardly minds her manners while breaking into and entering the log cabin of the bear family (consisting of a "little bitty bear cub, just knee-high to a bumblebee,... a mild-mannered middle-size mama... and a great big humpbacked gray-haired grizzly, nine feet tall and cross as two sticks"). While the trio takes a walk to let their red-hot beans cool, she tastes the papa grizzly's too-tangy food, burps after licking the young bear's plate clean and gets "madder than a half-squashed hornet" when the cub's stool falls apart under her weight. Cecil's acrylic gouache illustrations add western flourishes to the setting and costumes, and depict an amusing range of expressions on the faces of the trespasser and her victims. With its zippy lines and range of voices—from papa's "rough gruff" growling to his offspring's "little bitty baby voice"—this should be a read-aloud hit. The creators of Little Red Cowboy Hat add ample doses of comic hyperbole to pull off another spicy spoof. Ages 4-8. (May)