The Berenstain Bears' Old-Fashioned Christmas: Jan & Mike Berenstain
The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning): John Stephens

Cowboy Christmas: Rob Sanders & John Manders

Book: Cowboy Christmas
Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: John Manders
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-5 

Cowboy Christmas is a ridiculous romp through the joys of the season. Three grumpy cowboys, Dwight, Darryl, and Dub, find themselves stuck in the desert rustling cows three days before Christmas. Each day, one of the cowboys laments a particular remembered tradition (like chopping down a Christmas tree). Each time, their cook, Cookie, very quietly suggests that instead of complaining they take action to reinstate the tradition. The results are pathetic and absurd ("charred sugar-molasses-bean cookies" and cows dressed up as reindeer). But in the end, a mysterious Santa brings Christmas to the cowpokes after all, just as Cookie has disappeared for his day off. 

Sanders' text is full of cowboy twang, like:

"Dub lashed twigs to the herd's heads, tied bandannas to their tails, and dangled cowbells 'round their necks. Then he stood back and took a gander."


"The cowboys spent the day mending fences, minding the herd, and feeling low-down and miserable. 

Near sunset, the boys rounded up the cattle and moseyed toward camp."

You have to love a picture book that uses the word "moseyed". I also love that he plays the boys' belief in Santa Claus straight up. And even if the "Santa" who appears near the end of the book is Cookie (and this is my no means certain), the cook himself receives an unexpected gift in his stocking in the end. 

Format-wise, Cowboy Christmas is part of Random House's Golden Book series. There's no dust jacket, and the cover looks somewhat muted and retro. But Manders' illustrations, while not leaping from the page, are entertaining. The animals are particularly amusing, all displaying wide, worried eyes in the face of the cowboys' actions. 

Cowboy Christmas could be a nice addition to your holiday reading fare, with a quirky feel, and much more humor than sentimentality. 

Publisher: Golden Books (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).