Julie Danneberg. Charlesbridge Publishing, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58089-045-8
At the center of Danneberg's (First Day Jitters) affable if-well, somewhat slim-story is an aspiring cowboy who isn't too handy with a lasso. But he sure can soothe horses and cows with his melodic poetry. Still, Slim's prowess with a pen doesn't impress the other cowhands, who inform him that real cowboys ""don't mess with no fancy, perfumed words"" and ""don't write better than they talk."" So Slim ""stuffed his poems into his saddlebags and concentrated on becomin' a real cowboy."" On a cattle-herding trip, his earnest attempts to help out have disastrous results, so he decides to head home. When a violent electrical storm causes the distraught cows to stampede in Slim's direction, his verse (""Lightning and thunder/ Won't put you under./ No need to fear./ This cowboy is near"") calms the animals just in time to avoid tumbling over a cliff. His cowboy colleagues are full of praise when they catch up with the hero and subdued cattle-and one even asks for Slim's help finding ""a word that rhymes with dogies."" With its fittingly old-fashioned feel, Apple's (Brave Martha) earth-tone watercolor-and-pencil art captures the tale's energy and dusty setting, and bestows Slim and his bovine pals with comical facial expressions. This good-naturedly hokey tale may well inspire kids feelin' a bit out of step with the herd to appreciate their own unique talents. Ages 4-7.
Reviewed on: 01/30/2006