- Hardcover: 180 pages
- Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC (October 10, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0979751373
- ISBN-13: 978-0979751370
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,155,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Prairie Dog Cowboy Hardcover – October 10, 2008
Top customer reviews
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The book is filled with entertaining action, such as roping, herding cows, breaking in wild horses, winter blizzards, coyote attacks, and learning how to deal with harshness in life. Along the way, Buddy (and the reader) learns much about enduring unfairness gracefully, working hard, honesty, meeting your obligations, and about love and family. The story held my interest as the reader becomes emotionally invested in Buddy and pulls for him to succeed. Zabel has done an admirable job of creating characters and situations that reflected life in 1900s Oklahoma realistically.
In summary, Prairie Dog Cowboy is a great book to buy for, and to recommend to, young adult (YA) readers. Not only will they be highly entertained reading about life as a cowboy, but they will gain valuable insight into how to deal with various life issues involving bullying, mistreatment, love, family, and what's important in life. I highly recommend this book!
Buddy's neighbors, Caleb Hyman and his two sons and daughter, are more family than Buddy's real family is. Caleb teaches Buddy how to rope and tells him when he can rope a prairie dog Caleb will hire him to work on his ranch. Buddy practices and practices and discovers it's not easy to rope those little critters. When two of Jake's friends see Buddy attempting to rope the prairie dogs, they tease him and call him "Prairie Dog Cowboy."
The setting for V. Gilbert Zabel's Prairie Dog Cowboy is Oklahoma, between the years 1899 and 1912. Her husband's tales of working on his family farm when he was a boy sparked the idea for this book. Ms. Zabel weaves bits of the state's history into her story, such as Oklahoma becoming a state on November 16, 1907. Many young readers who care little about history will be surprised how much they learn without even realizing they're learning it. The author has a talent for speaking to her readers and putting them in the middle of the story, as if they're actually riding the range or breaking horses with Buddy and his friends.
Ms. Zabel has written a tender story about a spunky young man who grows up when times were tough and a man had to work hard if he wanted to succeed. The book ends with a delightful twist. Oh, no! I'm not telling. You'll have to read the story to find out. This book should appeal to young readers of all ages, especially those who have dreams of their own. Which is most of us, right?
Vivian Zabel, a retired teacher, author, and publisher, has a special interest in reaching reluctant readers - especially boys, as there never seem to be enough books designed to appeal to them.
Prairie Dog Cowboy, by V. Gilbert Zabel, is the story of a hard-working boy growing up in "No Man's Land" on the cusp of statehood - in the region that would come to be known as the Oklahoma Panhandle. Most kids today can't even imagine working on a ranch from sunup to sundown, in addition to doing chores that put "take out the trash" to shame. In Prairie Dog Cowboy, young readers who have grown up thinking of school as a chore get a whole new perspective on it. On the turn-of-the-century frontier, school is a privilege and a bit of a luxury. School didn't happen until all the farming and ranching work was done, and then a kid had to be willing to put in more effort towards reading and writing. An education might enable them to manage their own land or business one day - it might let them support a family of their own. But even if that notion is hard for today's kids to grasp, they can relate to the story of a little boy who has thoughts and feelings and dreams and frustrations just like theirs.
Four year old Buddy Roberts herds his father's cows and calves on foot, even in winter. He works hard, especially after his father's stroke leaves him incapacitated, even as his brother Jake is coddled and treated like a little prince. His mother makes it clear to Buddy: he's meant to work with his back, while Jake is destined for college and a better, easier life. Buddy likes working, though, and dreams of becoming a cowboy. He practices his lassoing skills on prairie dogs - something Jake's friends Hulmet and Ross find hilariously funny. They take every opportunity to taunt and torment the boy.
Buddy's efforts impress the neighboring rancher, Caleb Hyman, and he begins to mentor and encourage the child, eventually becoming like a father to the child who struggles to understand why his mother dislikes him. Caleb's children become Buddy's closest friends, and the nearest thing to family that he's ever known. Plucky little Katie Hyman is particularly attached to the young man, but one wonders if it would take whacking himself in the head against a stable rafter to make him see the young woman she's becoming. As Buddy grows to be a young man, he faces some tough choices in how to deal with others - he could succumb to bitterness and resentment; he could exact revenge on his brother's bullying friends; or he follow the example set by his employer and friend, Caleb Hyman. There are unexpected rewards and heartbreaks along the way. There is also plenty of action and adventure when Buddy, who loves animals, discovers he has a talent for breaking horses. Life on a ranch is never easy: Buddy faces a chilling blizzard, a coyote attack, and near death at the edge of a cliff.
The only real question I had for Vivian Gilbert Zabel when I finally turned the last page in Prairie Dog Cowboy was, "When do I get to read the sequel?" Because there has to be a sequel; I've come to care for all the characters in the story, and I'm not ready to close the curtain and trust that they all live happily ever after. I know that the author has more Buddy stories up her sleeve; after all, she's been married to the inspiration behind the tales for nearly fifty years. She has long dreamed of incorporating her husband Robert's stories of working on his family's farm, becoming a cowboy, and learning to break horses into a novel for young readers. Prairie Dog Cowboy begins what I hope will be the first of many such books from Zabel.