My grandfather was a real cowboy. I feel sad that I never got to share Real Cowboys with him. He would have appreciated this book and nodded his head at it, “Yep. That’s right.” This wonderful title for young readers describes what real cowboys actually do, turning the cultural image of the cowboy on its head.
The book starts “real cowboys are quiet in the morning,” explaining why they need to be. We see that cowboys are not only quiet but also gentle, good listeners, patient, peace-loving, and capable of crying. Sure, they are strong and tough, but they also take turns, care about the environment, and are artistic. They are also girls and boys and every color imaginable.
Jonathan Bean’s art surprised me. I was expecting something like his art in This Is My Home, This is My School, but here his illustrations are much sketchier and more impressionistic, even edging toward Cubism.
Real Cowboys, by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 2016