STARRED REVIEW
October 22, 2016

Where you sleep out every night, and the only law is right

By Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean
Review by

There’s a bit of the Wild West spirit in all of us, even those of us who have never ridden a horse or slept by a campfire. Lingering in our blood, it’s a connection to the land, a compassion for the animals and people around us, a longing for wide skies and faraway stars. Written by Kate Hoefler and illustrated by Jonathan Bean, Real Cowboys strikingly echoes that spirit.

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There’s a bit of the Wild West spirit in all of us, even those of us who have never ridden a horse or slept by a campfire. Lingering in our blood, it’s a connection to the land, a compassion for the animals and people around us, a longing for wide skies and faraway stars. Written by Kate Hoefler and illustrated by Jonathan Bean, Real Cowboys strikingly echoes that spirit.

For many of us, cowboys are a thing of legends and old black-and-white movies; many little ones have never heard of a cattle drive. Real Cowboys is an ode to these men and women, a look back at an era very much gone, and also a cowboy primer for young readers. Simply and genuinely told, Real Cowboys covers all aspects of a cowboy’s tough life: lost cattle and fast dogs, blowing dust and prickly cactus plants, coyote songs and watchful nights.

Much like an unassuming, weatherworn cowboy telling a story, Hoefler unfolds the life of cowboys and cowgirls with simple, calm language. In some cases, her words are poetic and precise, and in others she lets the art speak and the imagination soar.

With art that is in turns colorful and muted, tumultuous and peaceful, artist Jonathan Bean perfectly captures the mood and the whims of the West. Bean masterfully captures not only dust storms and cattle drives, but also the moments of persistent, careful watching and lonely cowboy dreams. Vague, almost abstract, color-blocked shapes interlock, silhouettes pass through the background, making every spread a true Southwesterly work of art.

The perfect gift for the young and old cowboys in your life, Real Cowboys will have you heading west, even if only in your heart.

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Real Cowboys

Real Cowboys

By Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean
HMH
ISBN 9780544148925

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