An agreeable, but essentially slight Texas tall tale about keeping secrets. “Might could be Cowboy Sam was the most favorite man in the whole town of Dry Gulch”—because his capacious hat has become the repository for the townspeople’s secrets. But the inevitable happens: one day, he hears one secret too many, and the hat simply will not stay on his head. Neither a stack of horseshoes nor a 25-lb. sack of oats nor the inverted weight of Cowboy Sam himself can contain the secrets, and they all come blasting out, tumbling Cowboy Sam and ripping a hole in the hat. Newcomers Griffin and Combs deliver the narrative in a Texas drawl full of hyperbolic comparisons, most of which are quite fun but some of which don’t make much sense (Cowboy Sam is “smart as an armadillo rootin’ up insects in the dark”). Wohnoutka’s (Counting Sheep, not reviewed) bright acrylics paint Cowboy Sam as a genial W.C. Fields, and the secrets are depicted as swirls of purple. Logical readers will wonder why the townspeople are so concerned about the escape of all the secrets since they still aren’t revealed to the general public. Although Cowboy Sam finally realizes he can keep the secrets in his heart, the lack of substance to the threat of the secrets’ release makes the whole plot hollow. It’s a cute concept, but the incomplete follow-through robs this story of any real interest. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-08854-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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