Colloquially told, with an epistolary twist, this Western tall tale of guileless cowboy Slim, who finds himself thrust into the role of a hero, packs a lot of charm.
Sweet-talked by an about-to-be married coyote into delivering a letter to the sheriff of Fire Gulch City, Slim also accepts a hat as part of the deal. While all Slim wants at the end of each day is “an ice-cold sarsaparilla,” he finds himself instead capturing first a flood and then a tornado in the magic cowboy hat. Finally, in where else but Fire Gulch City, he puts out a fire with the water stored in the hat and then captures Smelly Jim and his Band of Outlaws by unleashing the tornado. In each town, he’s feted with a celebration and five-, six- and seven-alarm chili. A surprise in the letter brings this lively tale to a tidy conclusion. Langdo’s jaunty, energetic pictures employ highlighted circles to zoom in for the occasional telling close-up. The classically deadpan narration features dialogue liberally strewn with Western-isms and lacking just the right number of terminal g’s to give flavor without overwhelming. Decent, likable Slim makes for an excellent protagonist.
An ebullient and refreshing venture Out West. (Picture book. 5-8)