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Tenth Avenue Cowboy    by Linda Oatman High & Bill Farnsworth order for
Tenth Avenue Cowboy
by Linda Oatman High
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, both in adult books and in children's books. A little known slice of Americana is portrayed in this gorgeously illustrated picture book, Tenth Avenue Cowboy.

The story revolves around a child named Ben. It is the turn of the last century, and Ben and his family are transplants to the tenements of New York from their ranch in the West. Ben is having problems adjusting to crowded city life; he is having a difficult time fitting in with new friends, and he often daydreams about the wild open plains that he left behind. He particularly misses the cowboys because that is all Ben has ever wanted to be when he grows up.

One day Ben sees authentic cowboys riding throughout the city to warn people of an approaching train. He is thrilled and amazed that cowboys have a purpose in the city. Ben meets one of the cowboys, who gives him an opportunity to ride through the city streets. He earns the admiration of the children who had previously shunned him. The author gives us a peek into Ben's future, showing the reader that he indeed fulfilled his dream of becoming a cowboy, even if the dream was modified to becoming a Tenth Avenue cowboy. A historical endnote about the Tenth Avenue cowboys and a glossary of terminology is included to enhance the reading experience.

The author perfectly captures the rhythms of turn-of-the-century New York City, and the artist, via enchanting, dream-like paintings, perfectly captures the landscape. Even if you don't have a little cowboy or cowgirl at home, there is still much to be enjoyed about this terrific book.

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