Literary Genres: Westerns

Ferris, Jean.  EIGHT SECONDS.  San Diego:  Harcourt, 2000.  186p.
    0-15-202367-4; hb.,   $17.00.   99-48796     Gr. 7-12.   FIC

    John, an eighteen-year-old high school senior, his friend Bobby, and Russ, the local bully, go to rodeo school where they meet a college student, Kit.  John and Kit become friends.  “The way I was talking to Kit wasn’t a way I’d ever talked to Bobby, and he was my best friend.  This was something new and personal and daring, like driving too fast on an unfamiliar road.  Like getting on a bull’s back. “   Then John learns from his sister, who goes to the same college as Kit, that he is in a gay activist group on campus.  John begins to question himself and betrays a friendship.
    John is a fully developed character who has three sisters and a relationship with his parents and friends.  He even has a health history that put him a grade behind his peers.  Within the macho setting of rodeo bull riding, this first person story helps readers learn about self and sexual orientation in a non sensational way.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Saunders, Susan.  LUCKY LADY.  New York: Harper, 2000.  120p.
    0-380-97784-2; hb., $14.95   99-42648   Gr. 3-6    FIC

    Jamie Cooper’s mother goes on assignment to Southeast Asia and sends her to stay with her Grandfather on his ranch in Texas.  However, when she arrives, her Grandfather is not interested in anything, has sold all of his animals, and has leased the ranch.  This story has all the elements of a “horse opera:” a taciturn grandfather, a difficult horse that needs saving from the glue factory, a near miss with a rattlesnake, and a brush fire.  If this isn’t enough, her mother doesn’t call from Asia and Jamie learns that her mother might be caught in a flood.   Readers will agree with the heroine when Jamie says on the second to last page, “How had all of this happened in less than two weeks?”   However, if this is a young girl’s first horse book or is read by a young girl who has or wants a horse of her own, this is good introductory fare; an easy satisfactory read. If you can’t afford the hardback, wait for the paperback when it becomes available.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Schaefer, Jack.  SHANE.  Illus by Wendell Minor.  Illustrated American Classics series.
    Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1949, 1976, 2001. 135p.  0-395-94116-4; hb., $22.00
    2001-024045     Gr. 4+     FIC

    This new edition, a classic conflict between Wyoming ranchers and homesteaders is illustrated in watercolors by Wendell Minor.  According to the Illustrator’s Preface, the Big Horn Mountains, rather than the Grand Tetons of the movie, are pictured because they are the authentic location.  The story, told in the first person, by a young boy, Robert MacPherson Starrett, Bob, begins “He rode into our valley in the summer of ’89.  I was a kid then, barely topping the backboard of father’s old chuck-wagon.  I was on the upper rail of our small corral, soaking in the late afternoon sun, when I saw him far down the road where it swung into the valley from the open plain beyond.”   The last sentence sums up this classic Western:  “He was the man who rode into our little valley out of the heart of the great glowing West and when his work was done rode back whence he had come and he was Shane.”
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director; Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

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