MTYT: Real Cowboys

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean is a picturebook that illustrates cowboys in their daily lives. This week, Prisca and Ray continue our theme and examine who cowboys are with a fresh perspective from this book.

Real Cowboys

Prisca: My image of cowboys, which I admit is primarily from television, shatters with Real Cowboys. While cowboys in this book are as tough and hardworking as I expect, they’re also gentle, patient and good listeners. They sing lullabies, ask for help, want peace, get homesick and cry. Real cowboys also “are as may different colors as the earth” and “are girls, too.” Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean provide insights into the diverse lives of cowboys. It’s an amazing and important book! I’m sure my image of cowboys before this book is similar to that of others.

Ray: My image of cowboys is from my youth, the black and white TV shows of the 1950s and 1960s and movies starring John Wayne. However, this book shows a different and realistic side to what cowboys are really like. The written text is so informative and poetic. The artwork is done in a different yet creative and beautiful style. There are details in the artwork that need close inspection to fully understand the true nature of the life of a cowboy. Bean’s artwork does just that.

Prisca: Yes, I love Bean’s art and can’t help but pour over it. Bean carefully chooses colors that highlight the exciting but also sad parts of cowboys’ lives. The title page (which sometimes readers pass over quickly) is rich. The cowboy sleeping in bed is bald; the radio has a digital clock; keys hang on a hook by the bed; a photo of an adult and child is on the wall, Finally, a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap and a cup with a toothbrush and razor are on the windowsill. That really brings the lives of cowboys into the present day. Bean also includes different types of cowboys on different pages. What do you think of Bean’s art? How do you think he creates the images?

Ray: What immediately strikes me is Bean’s use of spray paint and stencils. He also uses drawing materials such as pastels or pencil, both colored and dark gray. The art resembles silkscreening, which I learned about in art school. The illustrations are also monocromatic or multicolored. Bean’s use of viridian green in the nocturnal or night scenes is “dead on.” Viridian green is the color of light at night, and Bean uses it to enhance those scenes. Finally, one of the first things I think of the night stampede scenes with rain, lightening and thunder is the famous Frederick Remington painting of a stampeed. Cowboys’ jobs are “24/7.” From the beginning of the cattledrive, until arrival at their destination, cowboys care for cattle, day and night, no matter what the weather conditions. Bean’s art and Hoefler’s writing show who cowboys really are, both in personality and job.

Prisca: Yes, this book provides rich insights into the lives of “real” cowboys, past and present, and is one readers are sure to enjoy!

Title: Real Cowboys
Authors: Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780544148925
Date Published: October 4 2016

This is the second installment of December 2017’s My Take/Your Take. To follow these continuing conversations, check back every Wednesday.

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