Book Review of Jackrabbit Jewel and the Longhorn Cattle Drive
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The Children’s Book Review
Jackrabbit Jewel and the Longhorn Cattle Drive
Written by Trey Armstrong
Illustrated by Kaytlin Christensen
Ages 4-10 | 40 Pages
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press | ISBN-13: 9780875657998
What to Expect: Adventure, Spanish vocabulary, western history, female protagonist
Jackrabbit Jewel and the Longhorn Cattle Drive is a modern-day tall tale loosely based on the life of Jewel Frost Duncan, a pioneering cowgirl from West Texas who became the first woman to compete in the Pecos Rodeo in 1929.
In this story, we meet Jewel, who longs to become a cowgirl but has no mount. One day her father brings her an orphaned baby jackrabbit whom she raises and discovers that the more she feeds it, the more it grows. Soon the rabbit becomes abnormally large and big enough to use as a mount. Jewel is all set to chase after her dream of cowpunching! When Jewel’s good friend Pecos Bill cannot take a herd of longhorn cattle north to a ranch in Montana, the task falls to Jewel. As she travels, we are shown the many trials a cowboy/girl would have faced along the trail.
Trey Armstrong does a wonderful job of creating a folktale based on the history of the West while including characters who are relevant to today. The story takes elements of a classic Western and incorporates the history and geography of the Goodnight-Loving Trail to tell a story that readers will find entertaining and educational. In addition to the clever story, Kaytlin Christensen has provided illustrations that evoke a traditional Western palate of colors: shades of brown and green to illustrate the arid land of the Southwest. These pencil drawings lend an authentic “cowgirl” feeling to the tale.
Jackrabbit Jewel and the Longhorn Cattle Drive makes a great addition to a unit of study on American Folktales, or perhaps a fun read-aloud during Women’s History Month in March. Younger readers will enjoy the illustrations and the fun nature of Jewel’s adventure, while older readers will connect with the characters’ hard work and historical references provided.
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About the Author
TREY ARMSTRONG was born and raised in Pecos, Texas. The fourth generation of a West Texas pioneer ranching family, he received his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Texas A&M. He and his wife Susanne own and operate Sandhills Veterinary Clinic in Monahans, Texas. They have three children.
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