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COWBOY SAM AND THOSE CONFOUNDED SECRETS by Kitty Griffin

COWBOY SAM AND THOSE CONFOUNDED SECRETS

By Kitty Griffin (Author) , Kathy Combs (Author) , Mike Wohnoutka (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-08854-7
Publisher: Clarion

An agreeable, but essentially slight Texas tall tale about keeping secrets. “Might could be Cowboy Sam was the most favorite man in the whole town of Dry Gulch”—because his capacious hat has become the repository for the townspeople’s secrets. But the inevitable happens: one day, he hears one secret too many, and the hat simply will not stay on his head. Neither a stack of horseshoes nor a 25-lb. sack of oats nor the inverted weight of Cowboy Sam himself can contain the secrets, and they all come blasting out, tumbling Cowboy Sam and ripping a hole in the hat. Newcomers Griffin and Combs deliver the narrative in a Texas drawl full of hyperbolic comparisons, most of which are quite fun but some of which don’t make much sense (Cowboy Sam is “smart as an armadillo rootin’ up insects in the dark”). Wohnoutka’s (Counting Sheep, not reviewed) bright acrylics paint Cowboy Sam as a genial W.C. Fields, and the secrets are depicted as swirls of purple. Logical readers will wonder why the townspeople are so concerned about the escape of all the secrets since they still aren’t revealed to the general public. Although Cowboy Sam finally realizes he can keep the secrets in his heart, the lack of substance to the threat of the secrets’ release makes the whole plot hollow. It’s a cute concept, but the incomplete follow-through robs this story of any real interest. (Picture book. 4-8)