Nine stories from a lifelong westerner, drawing on his experience as a ranch hand and ""bits and pieces of the West as it was when I was young."" In an introduction, he attributes some of the stories to Matt, a ""genuine reformed outlaw, who at one time rode with. . .Butch Cassidy,"" who ""may have stretched the truth a little."" Indeed, that is the flavor of most of these understated tales--told with a relaxed, conversational Western drawl, they might have happened. A bull and a jay might make friends; but would the jay perch on the bull's horns two years after his friend's demise? The opening story is an all-out tall tale about mosquitoes and rattlesnakes. Finally, there is a moving, poetic tale from Smokey, a Shoshone, about his mother's grandfather: he stayed behind when his people journeyed away for the winter, but though he fell asleep in the snow it was not his time--he revived, hunted, and gave his tribe the joy of finding him alive and well in the spring. Although more sedately paced than modern children may expect, these stories have an engaging cadence and the ring of authenticity: ""You ever ride a bull? His hide's all loose and slithers from side to side. It's like tryin' to ride a live pig in a gunnysack."" Bird's line drawings are vigorous and appropriate. Worth a try, especially for reading aloud.