BOOKS: Sanders’ cowboy Christmas tale full of subtle touchesDwight, Darryl and Dub have a problem. “Santy Claus” will never find them out on the range.
By: Jean Patrick, Republic Book Columnist
Dwight, Darryl and Dub have a problem. “Santy Claus” will never find them out on the range.
Such is the dilemma of the cowpokes in “Cowboy Christmas,” by Rob Sanders. The only person who doesn’t seem too concerned is Cookie. He just doles out plates of beans.
Meanwhile, Dwight weeps with memories of evergreen trees with icicles and strings of popcorn. When Cookie suggests they decorate a tree of their own, Dwight lassoes a cactus, Darryl hauls hay for “hay-cicles” and, in place of popcorn, Dub corrals cans of corn. The result is “downright ugly.”
From there, each cowboy attempts to recreate a childhood memory. Darryl makes molasses cookies in the frying pan, using beans for sprinkles. Dub attempts reindeer costumes for the cattle and ties twigs to the heifers’ horns.
Neither idea works very well.
Of course, Christmas Eve comes and goes with no Santy Claus. But the next night the three cowboys get quite a surprise.
“Cowboy Christmas” definitely fits the cowboy genre with its exaggerated accents and cowpoke stereotypes. However, author Rob Sanders’ storytelling technique is concise and full of dry, understated humor.
The illustrations by John Manders are also exaggerated — perhaps to the extreme. In fact, the oversized hats, ears and noses on the cowboys and horses come close to overwhelming the story. But at the end, Manders uses these illustrations to pull off a subtle punch.
Whereas know-it-all-readers may quickly assume that Cookie is dressed up as Santa Claus on Christmas night, astute viewers will see a gift that will keep everyone guessing.
“Cowboy Christmas” probably won’t become a Christmas classic. But it may be just the book for the cowpoke in your life.
“Cowboy Christmas.” By Rob Sanders. Illustrated by John Manders. Golden Books. 2012. 32 pp.