A picture book about making amends.
In an unspoken time and place, but most likely the Old West, an Outlaw has terrorized a small town with a series of unspoken transgressions. When readers join the story, however, the Outlaw has disappeared, and the town has resumed its sleepy life. After a time, a stranger rides into town and begins a series of charitable acts. As the stranger repairs the town’s train platform, he’s recognized as the Outlaw. While some shun him, others acknowledge that he’s atoning for his past misdeeds by helping the community. His past crimes are never addressed, however. The attempted message of redemption through selfless acts is noble, but the story is too superficial to support the abstract moral. Vo’s artwork, a mixture of ink, watercolor, and newsprint transfer, is attractive but works against the story; the tone of the art is cool and rigid, while the words tell of a hot town and a population whose emotions are fiery. The seeming whiteness of the community also hampers the storytelling, as the Old West was far from this monochromatic vision.
Keep this pony in the stable, y’all. (Picture book. 4-8)