Today we begin a brand new month in our Storybook Year. March promises to be an eventful 31 days including St. Patrick’s Day (3/17), the first day of Spring (3/20), and Easter (3/31). In our neck of the woods March also means rodeo season – three weeks of riding, roping, music, carnival, and livestock shows officially beginning today! What better time, then, to read Gail Gibbons’ “Yippee-Yay! – A Book about Cowboys and Cowgirls”.
Borrowing a few words from the author’s bio inside the book’s jacket, Ms. Gibbons excels at turning “fact into entertainment.” True to form, in “Yippee-Yay!” Ms. Gibbons manages to pack a passel of knowledge about her subject matter into a colorful and captivating package. She takes the reader on a virtual cattle drive, introducing different aspects of cowboy life on the path from ranch to railhead. Along the way she manages to sprinkle in some history about the glory days of the Old West. We read about broncobusters and branding, lariats and longhorns, ranches and rodeos, chuck wagons and the Chisolm Trail. The book also introduces several influential characters from the Old West including Wild Bill Hickok and Annie Oakley. The pages of “Yipee-Yay!” are filled with call-outs, diagrams, and maps that provide additional color to the story – making this a great book to have in your library, lying around for little hands to pick up and peruse on their own in order to get “the rest of the story.”
Some of the information in “Yippiee-Yay!” was familiar, some of it was brand new, and all of it was fun to read aloud. Personally, I imagined a cowboy sitting around a campfire spinning a yarn, and used that accent. Like many, I am fascinated by the myth of the Old West. After reading this picture book, I was overcome by an urge to pick up a copy of Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove”, watch “Silverado” or “Tombstone” (or any number of other great Westerns), and head out to the rodeo…all at the same time.