Saturday, June 13, 2020

Review: Bandit the Cow Dog by Phil Mills, Jr.

by Phil Mills, Jr.
Illustrated by Jeanne Conway
Mascot Books
Picture Books
34 pages
ages 4 to 8

Spending her summer on the western ranch of her grandparents was a new and thrilling chance for ten-year-old Mary Andrews. Used to living in the city, Mary discovers that being around horses and cattle every day was a vastly new experience. Having to do routine farm chores like gathering eggs and keeping track of her dog Princess was also a revelation. She found it difficult to just make her bed and keep her clothes picked up, let alone caring for an entire menagerie!
But Mary’s life takes a major turn when she is given her first horse. Mary, having never ridden before, finds that there is a lot she still needs to learn. Luckily, Bandit, the ranch cow dog, is there to help her. Bandit may be retired, but he still loves herding foul and trying to contain the ranch cats. Mary will soon find that having a horse is extremely different from having a dog, as horse ownership comes with important responsibilities that she will soon discover along with her new friend, Bandit the cow dog.


Young horse, ranch and dog fans will want to hear this tale again and again, and dream of heading out West themselves.
Ten-year-old Mary is a city girl and thrilled to spend some time with her grandparents on their ranch in Wyoming. While everything is fun, other moments bother her a bit. She has a few chores and her dog, Princess, needs more looking after than usual, since the dog isn't accustom to the great outdoors. Luckily, Bandit, a retired ranch dog, watches everything and comes to the rescue when he can. But when Mary sneaks out one night to feed her 'new' horse, she might have to depend on Bandit more than she expected.
This book is perfect for a read-aloud. The text is quite heavy for young readers to tackle on their own until they are pretty stable with words, but listeners are sure to enjoy this story. While it does introduce ranch life a bit through Mary's first visit and her discoveries, it also sinks in to daily life and atmosphere more, thanks to Bandit and his ever watchful eyes. The story stays concentrated on the adventure, not falling into the danger of trying to explain ranch life to kids. Rather, a little tension and discovery keep this read fun to listen to.
The illustrations are done with heart and accompany the tale nicely. They allow the ranch scenes to remain true to life and allow listeners to visually experience the tale. The animals are particularly well done, which horse and dog fans are sure to appreciate.
There are a few good lessons in these pages, too, as Mary learns about responsibility and helping out in a group. She also learns how to step forward, be brave and admit to her mistakes. 
While ranch and animal fans will enjoy this read, the style also makes it great for homeschoolers. 

You can find more about the author:
Facebook: Phil Mills Jr., Western Author
Twitter: @GoodwindCowboy
Instagram: PhilMills1145

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