cover image Tyler's New Boots

Tyler's New Boots

Chronicle Books, Irene Morck. Chronicle Books, $6.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2143-8

A herd of cattle stampeding across the endpapers hints at the subject of this feisty picture book, in which a boy breaks in a shiny new pair of cowboy boots. Pleased as punch with his footgear, Tyler heads for his uncle's Misty Valley Ranch to help with the annual cattle drive. Despite the boy's initial precautions, his boots don't stay ""soft as a pony's nose"" for long as he pitches in to keep the herd together (one orphan calf in particular), guiding them up steep hills, through tangled forests and across a river. Scratched by branches, soaked by water and decorated with cow flops, in the end the boots are ""muddy, stained, soggy, cut-up""--just like those of a real cowboy--and Tyler couldn't be more proud. Morck's workmanlike prose gives a realistic, child's-eye overview of a cattle drive. Graham's detailed drawings of cows and steeds are more convincing than those of the cowhands, but her varied mix of wide-angle shots, tight closeups and smaller sketches gives the pages a sense of movement and flow. This brief introduction to cattle herding will likely whet the appetites of aspiring ranchers. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)