Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review - Prairie Dog Cowboy

Awhile back, I interviewed Vivian Gilbert Zabel, author, editor, and publisher. Since then, I've read her latest book for young readers, Prairie Dog Cowboy, and I'd like to tell you a little about it.
Prairie Dog Cowboy by V. Gilbert Zabel
A boy, a dog, a dream.

From the time he’s four years old, Buddy Roberts wants to be a cowboy, with a rope and a horse. He gets little support from his family, however. His mother favors Buddy’s older brother, Jake, and blames Buddy for all the bad things in her life. Poor Buddy wonders what he’s done wrong to make her always mad at him. His father is no help, so Buddy pretty much is left to fend for himself. With his dog, Patch, Buddy tends to the cows and calves, hoping to make his mother love him.

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 book 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?


  1. Thank you so much for such a delightful review of my book.

    May I copy it for my files? And did you by chance post it on Amazon?

    Your review makes me want to read the book. *laugh* Oh, guess I have about 100 times.

    Prairie Winds will be the sequel.

    Thank you again for the review.

  2. You certainly may use it wherever you wish, Vivian. And thanks for the reminder about Amazon. My brain sometimes takes a holiday. I'll do that right now.

    Looking forward to the next book in the series.


  3. I loved it and I'm 44 years old! I can't wait for Prairie Winds to come out. Great review, Beverly!

  4. Thanks, Rena. I'm looking forward to the sequel too.