posted by Meghan
There are some obsessions that we only seem to have in childhood. Dinosaurs, knights/princesses, trucks, cowboys – all seem to be things that we could not be passionate about as kids, but all but forget about as adults. (Ok, except the princess thing, which almost every woman I know secretly wants to turn into, and maybe the love of trucks turns to cars, specifically BMW’s and yes, I’m talking to you, honey.) I guess because there aren’t all that many job listings for paleontologists or cowboys. But as kids… ah, the fantasies abound. And so, we bring you our favorite cowboys, cowgirls, and other assorted stetson- wearing creatures.
Giddy Up, Cowgirl by Jarret Krosoczka
Krosoczka is a huge favorite of ours, and this simple book is no exception. Cowgirl is a big help to her Momma, in her own way, which any parent of a preschooler knows isn’t always the most helpful. But Momma reassures her that she always tries, and that’s what counts. Kids love the spilled eggs, the crash of the car, the fun language and the bright pictures.
Little Britches and the Rattlers by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Vincent Nguyen
Little Britches is headed to the rodeo in fine new duds. Too bad those rattlers won’t let her pass without surrendering them, one at a time. Will she ever get them back, or have to ride in the rodeo in her underclothes? I bet you can guess. One of the things kids seem to like best is the repetition of Little Britches name and the fun way both she and the sssssilly rattlersssss talk. (What we appreciate as adults is the no nonsense, no whining, straight-forward way Little Britches handles setbacks and conflict.)
Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, illustrated by Holly Berry
Gingerbread Cowboy is made by the rancher’s wife, who is a little tired of biscuits every day. But he up and runs away from the rancher, his wife, and all the folks on the range, including the javelinas and long-horned cattle, chanting “Giddy up, giddy up, as fast as you can…” until the wiley coyote catches up with him. A fun twist on a familiar tale.
Pecos Bill told by Robin Williams, original music by Ry Cooder
Usually we only put books on these book lists. Go figure. But this one is a story told on CD without an accompanying book, and we love it so much that we had to include it. Robin Williams tells the story of Pecos Bill, the original cowboy, in his inimitable style, and the music is perfect. (This family favorite is from the Rabbit Ears Treasury that we discovered 30 years ago -!!!- on NPR. It’s a fantastic audio book series, and makes a great car trip alternative to a DVD!)
Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by James Warhola
Like Gingerbread Cowboy, this is a retelling of a familiar tale- this time a gender reversal of Cinderella. Bubba may smell like the cows he ropes and horses he rides, but turns out that’s all is his favor as the lovely Miz Lurleen is looking for a real cowboy, not a pretender… (check out book again and get specifics). While Cinderella tellings are not in short supply (and we love many of them… in fact, a list of the cream of the crop is coming soon!), ones where it’s a Cinderfella are not as numerous. It’s nice for kids of both genders to see that it’s not always the poor girl who is rescued from poverty and drudgery by the handsome prince. Sometimes the boys want to dance at the ball, and the girls (or women) get to make the choices and sweep the boys off their feet!
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
Most parents are familiar with at least one of Brett’s lushly illustrated books- The Mitten, On Noah’s Ark, Town Mouse, Country Mouse– and if you haven’t read Armadillo Rodeo, it should be next on your list. The sweetly simple story uses the short sightedness of armadillos to launch the story of Bo, who follows a new pair of red boots (worn by Harmony Jean) to a rodeo for the first time, thinking he’s made another armadillo friend. Bo’s adventures are fun and funny, and the reassuring way his Ma and brothers trail after to bring him home safely is illustrated in minute and impeccable detail in the side pictures and background.
Cowboys and Cowgirls: Yippee-Yay! by Gail Gibbons
This is for geared for slightly older kids, but really appeals to the younger ones as well. This book is more factual than story based, which we thought would bore preschoolers and toddlers. Not so! Kids of all ages love to supply their own narratives, and really enjoy learning facts that they can apply to other favorite books and characters… like why cowboys wear what they wear, who were some famous cowboys and girls and much more. (And it reminded us, yet again, to never underestimate what kids can read and comprehend!)
Once you get started, you may find that you become as big a fan of the cowboy/girl/cookie/animal genre as your little buckaroo. These are just a sampling of our favorites. And we didn’t want to put this on too many lists, but another great one is Cowboy Baby, which is on our list of great books that all but force you to read them with an accent!