COWBOY SAM AND THOSE CONFOUNDED SECRETS

An agreeable, but essentially slight Texas tall tale about keeping secrets. “Might could be Cowboy Sam was the most favorite man in the whole town of Dry Gulch”—because his capacious hat has become the repository for the townspeople’s secrets. But the inevitable happens: one day, he hears one secret too many, and the hat simply will not stay on his head. Neither a stack of horseshoes nor a 25-lb. sack of oats nor the inverted weight of Cowboy Sam himself can contain the secrets, and they all come blasting out, tumbling Cowboy Sam and ripping a hole in the hat. Newcomers Griffin and Combs deliver the narrative in a Texas drawl full of hyperbolic comparisons, most of which are quite fun but some of which don’t make much sense (Cowboy Sam is “smart as an armadillo rootin’ up insects in the dark”). Wohnoutka’s (Counting Sheep, not reviewed) bright acrylics paint Cowboy Sam as a genial W.C. Fields, and the secrets are depicted as swirls of purple. Logical readers will wonder why the townspeople are so concerned about the escape of all the secrets since they still aren’t revealed to the general public. Although Cowboy Sam finally realizes he can keep the secrets in his heart, the lack of substance to the threat of the secrets’ release makes the whole plot hollow. It’s a cute concept, but the incomplete follow-through robs this story of any real interest. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-08854-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more