cover image Tall in the Saddle

Tall in the Saddle

Anne Carter. Orca Book Publishers, $8.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55143-154-3

In this sweet but confusing picture book, a boy imagines his father's work day spent not in an office, but out on the range and tall in the saddle. After a father-son game of cowboys one morning, Dad ""leaves for work in his suit and tie, still wearing his boots."" From there he borrows a bike from a neighbor (which transforms into a horse) and heads into the boy's fantasy world. After herding cattle, lassoing two neighborhood tattletales and diverting the Rotten Rustler Gang, Dad ""rides back slowly up through the city"" to meet his son at the end of the day. Young cowpokes will likely be baffled by the unclear chain of events here. Though her premise is fanciful, first-time author Carter fails to make a distinction between the real and the fantastic. McPhail's dusty, sun-splashed paintings depict an action-packed horseback adventure, but also add to the confusion. In most scenes, the boy gallops alongside his father, reporting on his exploits, yet the boy also greets Dad when he returns home from ""work"" at story's end, as if he hasn't seen him all day. Those willing to cast logic to the wind in favor of pleasing scenery will enjoy McPhail's foray into the Wild West. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)