Select one of the keywords
Tales from Gizzard's Grill    by Jeanne Steig & Sandy Turner order for
Tales from Gizzard's Grill
by Jeanne Steig
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

With the title alone, Jeanne Steig captures the attention of adults and children. In delightfully rhythmic verse, Tales from Gizzard's Grill presents three stories of the Fiasco townsfolk. Illustrator Sandy Turner supports the fun with delicate pencil figures, tall and short, stout and lean, tinged with mellow colors. Steig and Turner are a matched team in story text and a presentation intertwined with drawls and scenery from 'The Old West'.

The first tale, 'The Lonesome Cowboy' begins, 'It was on an April morning, / 'bout a quarter after nine, / That the Sheriff spied a stranger man / A-sitting down to dine.' The Sheriff informs the stranger in no uncertain terms that she is in charge. A cowpoke rushes into the Grill with news of a horse thief. Lickety-split the posse forms with the Sheriff at the lead. The Lonesome Cowboy and the Sheriff track down the surrendering varmint, 'I do repent my thievin', / I loathe my life of crime. / Why, the thought of livin' fair and square / Sends a chill right down my spine.' The lonesome cowboy and repentant horse thief team up to open a bake(ry) house in Fiasco.

The engaging account of 'Miss Lou-Lou' stars a medicine wagon team of daughter Louisa (Lou-Lou) and Daddy with their mule named Min. Riding into Fiasco, they find the townsfolk saddened 'bout a disaster, a dried up well in Fountain View. 'Why, it's turned as dry as desert sand', says the waitress, who's sufferin' a broken heart of a jilted bride. Folks team up to dowse for water 'A-waving branchy sticks.' Little Lou-Lou rushes to the wagon to retrieve a gift from her Mommy, '"My mother's gift!" she murmured / "I never understood / Why she left her daughter nothing more / Than a wand of forked wood."' Lou-Lou is the heroine when her forked wood locates water, and Daddy and Daughter settle in Fiasco.

Last but not least, 'The Duel' features a gruff stranger who challenges folks to a showdown, 'My feet's a revelation, / And that's my guarantee. / They're the worstest smellin' pair of feet / On man or chimpanzee.' When Myrna Poke wins the 'duel' of feet, the stranger concludes 'I reckon I will stay, ma'am. / No use to ramble on, / For my record's broke by Myrna Poke; / My glory days is gone'. Jeanne Steig's language lends the book a heap of pizzazz with cowpoke turns of phrase and meandering story lines. Sandy Turner's sketches of cartoon-style, character-actor faces wearing big, colorful hats add spice to each page. I've read Tales from Gizzard's Grill four times to myself and plan to pass them on to my grandchildren and friends.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Kids books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews