VARMINTS by Andy Hirsch


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Age Range: 11 - 13
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Two children get into one pickle after another as they search the Old West for their elusive dad.

There’s never a dull moment as Opie (Calliope, but woe betide anyone who calls her that) and pesky little brother Ned chase rumors of their pa’s whereabouts—being as he’s universally feared as “the criminal king of the west,” there are plenty of rumors—while a posse of disasters rides hot at their heels. In a series of set-piece chapters, Hirsch chucks the young searchers into saloon brawls, gunfights, and encounters with a massive mountain man clad in a bearskin onesie and a motherly if larcenous woman of low virtue, among other dust-ups. Finally Opie and Ned brave a booby-trapped underground lair to confront one of Pa’s “representatives,” a lowdown snake who killed their mother. Beneath a prized coonskin cap that, according to Ned, smells “like ten butts,” Opie’s orange hair glows as brightly as her feisty spirit in the neatly squared-off cartoon panels. Horses and other livestock (plus the odd jackalope) show as much personality as any of the two-legged characters. Amid the large typecast array of white gamblers, cowpokes, Pinkerton agents, settlers, and outlaws, the author floats an occasional darker-skinned or Native American figure.

Yee-haw! Pa never does show up, but there are plainly more misadventures in store before trail’s end. (Graphic Western. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62672-279-8
Page count: 226pp
Publisher: First Second
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2016


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