This book is a raucous ride from cover to cover. Maripat's ranch-inspired lingo is perfectly paired with Molly Idle's illustrations. Where the narrative leaves off, Idle's art takes over and brings the reader deeper into Red's world.
Rodeo Red's life gets full color treatment, but don't let the richness of these scenes stop you from taking in the small details, like the expressions, shadows, and setting. The blocks on this page are a good example.
The blocks spell red and dog.
And trouble has come to town, in the form of a little baby brother, who like every other younger sibling wants whatever the bigger sibling has. This might be okay, unless it is your best friend in the world, your dog Rusty.
It's also fitting that we never see the parents faces or while bodies. We only get glimpses of the sheriff and her deputy, because, like them, parents are never there until the going gets tricky.
Idle transforms a home's familiar settings into cowgirl territory.
Idle's art would be wonderful on it's own, but paired with Maripat's ranch jargon and idioms, they both get better. This book is a celebration of language.
Illustrate the Figurative Language: Have the students illustrate what they think the idioms, similes, and metaphors mean, then research them and create a new illustration ~OR~ Have the students research what the figurative language means and come up with a new one and illustrate it.
Figurative language in the book:
idea lit up my noggin
weighing things out
squawling firetruck heading to a wiener roast gone bad
feeling lower than a prairie dog's basement
madder than a bee in a Sunday bonnet
bold as a new nickel
handed him over like he was a hot coal at a barbecue
happier than two freckles on a sunny cheek
dropped me into a holding cell quicker than you could say lickety-split
squeezing that dog tighter than a greenhorn riding a bucking bronco
moseyed back into my ranch like he owned the place
as slippery as a snake's belly in a mudslide
happier than two buttons on a new shirt
eye's shone like two full moons
"Rodeo Red and her hound dog Rusty are happier than two buttons on a new shirt 'til Side Swiping Slim shows up. Red's sure anyone who hollers that much'll be hauled to the edge of town and told to skedaddle, but her parents are smitten. When Slim sets his eye on Rusty, Red'd better figure out a way to save her best friend in all the world. Can she bargain with a varmint?"