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by Trudy C. Hart

ISBN: 978-1-419-68642-9

An illustrated children’s western adventure story brings little-known events of the late 1800s into the present day.

The fifth picture book in a series about a pair of young brothers finds Bryn and Bryce Chance celebrating a birthday with a horseback ride across a rocky western trail, as author Hart (The Chance Brothers Ride to the Rescue, 2007, etc.) imagines a new adventure for her own sons in their home territory of northwestern Oklahoma. As they follow Outlaw Trail, named for notorious real-life horse thief and bank robber Dick Yeager, to its end at the outlaw’s alleged cave hideout, the boys experience the region’s landscape and wildlife. Surprises lurk around every turn as the boys and their horses are startled by a turkey, a coyote and fragile canyon edges. Educational opportunities abound in the geological features of the region, and discussion of isinglass is woven into the story, although Hart omits the risk and amazement of climbing a canyon trail. When the narrow trail crumbles, creating a chasm and separating them from their guide, the surprisingly unperturbed boys calmly continue alone and, narrowly escaping a rockslide in the outlaw’s cave, discover with excitement what Yeager left behind. This tale might be of special interest to readers from the region, who may be interested in seeking out this trail and learning about its historical background. The book’s illustrations are bright but rather one-dimensional and appear to be computer-aided. The Chance Brothers will mostly appeal to beginning readers due to the simplicity of the story, though it suffers from a lack of character development. The basis of the story on actual places and events creates opportunities for further reading and discussion by children and adults.

Worthy for inclusion in studies of pioneer days and the westward expansion of the United States.