“Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.”
Young Conrad is determined to master the art of becoming a cowboy. After all, what more do you need than a Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit and a horse? Horse he has not, but he does have next-door neighbor Imogene, a ginger-haired coquette who takes a particular delight in pointing out each and every one of Conrad’s flaws with appropriate aphorisms. A lassoed pig takes him for a ride? “When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.” Despite her assurances that he’ll never measure up, Conrad remains optimistic. And even when Imogene purchases the very horse he yearns for, he is willing to lend her a hand when she takes a well-deserved tumble. Fretz apparently intends to give voice to the notion of everyday forgiveness, but rather than drown readers in didacticism, she’s written a rootin’, tootin’ ranch tale, complete with an amusing “Vocabulary Poetical” selection of poems at the back of the book. Barretta picks up on Fretz’s high-spirited text, though some of his choices may give readers pause. For example, the villain’s snide dialogue pairs oddly with the doe-eyed little moppet Barretta has chosen to illustrate.
Nonetheless, fans of the wrangling way of life will find themselves much attached to Conrad and his true blue cowboy heart. (Picture book. 4-7)