This post is about a title by the same illustrator: Doris Burn. I have made a point to collect all the books that were written and illustrated by Doris Burn (there are only three and two are out of print). But she has illustrated a half dozen books in addition to these. A fellow Washingtonian, Doris Burn won my heart with Andrew Henry's Meadow years ago. Then I stumbled on my precious, precious favorite which she illustrated We Were Tired of Living in a House. I'm not linking it because I don't want my unwitting readers to accidentally buy the new, awful version of that book... more on this later.
Last year, I acquired The Summerfolk and loved it. This year, I finally got my hands on the missing part of the trifecta— I'll offer pictures before commentary:
The first thing I noticed about the book was the departure from her earlier style of simple black and white sketching. In this title, Burn uses a brown pencil wash which is actually quite fitting for the Old West themed story.
The story itself didn't immediately grab me in the way her other titles have. This is written in a true, olden time fashion. Unlike modern cowboy books, Doris doesn't shy away from whiskey, guns or brawls. She tells it like it is to which many contemporary parents will probably stick up their noses. The tale is of two feuding families ultimately brought together by a romantic, non-fighting son and a pretty lil' Miss. This isn't something I would read to my 6 and under set, but my 8 and 10 year old boys found it to be amusing, while I found the writing... the STORYTELLING to be indeed very deliberate and authentic. I don't think you will find much in children's picture books these days about the authentic Old West... fun, stylized versions, yes... but the nitty, gritty, dag-nabbit, root-tootin mess that it often was?! Not likely. So this book is nice to fill in that area.
That said, it wasn't an area that I felt essential to get into and I wouldn't call this title a MUST-HAVE for anyone other than die-hard Doris Burn lovers like myself...