CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 5 . . . . November 3, 2000
Then came a day when the wind changed. Time passed, and stretched, and tumbled, but the boy slept on. When he finally awoke, on the other side of sleep, he lay still for a moment, eyes closed. The wind carried the scent of an animal.Spend time with this book - it is to be savoured!! Author Gilles Tibo has stepped out of his "Simon" books to create a picture book fantasy around the dream of a young boy. The boy lives in the inner city and finds his refuge in a garbage dump where he has created a comfortable area complete with an old couch, lamp, tire swing and a canvas canopy. The boy wears a cowboy hat, carries a water pistol and a skipping rope lasso and rides an old oil barrel complete with wooden legs and an old mop. One day, however, the boy awakens to find that the golden steed of his dreams is standing before him, waiting to take him soaring through the skies. As they fly over the houses, an amazing phenomena begins to happen. Rocking horses break free from their rockers and soar into the sky after the boy and his horse. Then they are joined by the statues of horses that have torn loose from their pedestals. Before the evening is over, the merry-go-round is empty, and all of the horses from the pictures on the museum walls have leapt from their paintings to join the cavalcade.
Gilles Tibo has created a lyrical masterpiece. From the first words, the reader enters a fantasy: "In the time of then and once, of yet and still and will be...." Then the words weave through the images of the young boy sleeping nestled in the roots of the oak tree to the vibrant sounds of the horses wrenching from their bases and finally to the notion that the hooves of these creatures may create the thunder heard during a rainstorm while the horses race with "stardust catching in their manes."
This is the first picture book that Tom Kapas has illustrated, and his artwork truly complements Tibo's text. A few of the illustrations fill one page, but the majority are large, two-page spreads balanced by alternating small portions of text. The images are filled with details that children love to explore. If readers look very closely, they might notice that once the dream has begun, the boy and the horse are joined by three birds that fly along for the journey. The scene that includes the horses and riders leaping from the canvases in the museum is filled with historical significance and discussion starters. And what does happen to the riders? The touches of fantasy continue to the very last page of the book.
Tundra Books has done an excellent job on the binding, jacket and cover of this book. It is made to last. The Cowboy Kid captures the dream of so many children. This book will stimulate creativity, motivate language and predictions and feed the imagination of all readers. Tibo has created an endearing fantasy that children and their adults will want to read over and over.
Susan Fonseca is a teacher-librarian at Glenwood School in Winnipeg, MB.
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