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THE DIRTY COWBOY by Amy Timberlake Kirkus Star


by Amy Timberlake & illustrated by Adam Rex

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-31791-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Deciding, for obscure reasons, that it’s time for a bath, a solitary cowboy discovers that being clean can have unexpected complications in this side-splitting double debut. Ordering his dog to guard his clothes, the cowboy bounds into a river with a nearly new bar of lye soap to wash off the reek of black pepper and mesa mud, of wild boar and cow. But the dog doesn’t recognize this fresh-smelling stranger, and defends the duds until a knockdown, drag-out brawl leaves the cowboy covered in mud. Unfortunately, this leaves those clothes, except for hat and boots, in shreds. Realistically modeling setting and figures, but keeping the Legion of Decency off his case in numerous artful ways, Rex puts his cowhand, “naked as a nickel,” up against a decidedly coyote-ish canine, then sends the two plodding back to their shack beneath an ineffectual rain shower. Inspired by an anecdote passed down in the author’s family, this cautionary tale should please all young readers with an aversion to soap and water. (Picture book. 7-9)