Books

Ann Dickinson's Childrens/Teens Picks

Cowboy Christmas
Christmas is coming to the desert but cowboys Dwight, Darryl and Dub are disheartened, wondering if Santy Claus will find them out on the range. Cookie tries to cheer the boys up by encouraging them to create a Christmas tree from a saguaro, to make their own cookies (which burn to a crisp in the frying pan), and to dress up the cows in antlers and bandanas to make them look like reindeer. None of this works very well. “Another day, another cow,” grumbles Darryl on Christmas morning as he and the boys head off to work. But when their day is done they go back to camp and see glowing lights and hear a jolly “HoHoHo!” This story is full of bright, colorful illustrations of an ethnically-diverse set of cowboys with comical looking animals.
Could a New Year’s Eve party be far off?
Diamond in the Desert, A
Tetsu, an eight year old Japanese-American boy and his family are sent to the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona in 1942. He describes it as “…a place where summer came in March and black scorpions crawled into your shoes at night to hide,” and “…where barbed wire stretched in twisted jumble coils to remind us of what happened on December 7, 1941.” As hundreds of families arrive at the relocation camp, the boys living there clear out a section of desert for a baseball field and start a team, playing other teams from around Arizona. They go on to beat the state champions in a rousing game. Japanese-Americans spent three years at this internment camp in Arizona and were not allowed to go home until World War II ended in 1945. This poignant historical fiction is based on the real life of 80-year-old Tetsu Furukawa.
Fidget's Folly
"Finally Echo was going to fly.” So begins this story of two peregrine falcons, raised in a 'hack' box at the edge of a canyon. Fidget and Echo are brother and sister falcons who began their lives in an incubator and later were brought to the canyon to learn to fly and to hunt on their own. They grow bigger and stronger and soon are independent. The end notes tell the reader that peregrine falcons have been taken off the Endangered Species list and are flourishing. This brief picture book has good, clear illustrations and simple text. It is ideal for a second- or third-grade reader.
Mickey the Sheep Dog
In this charming picture book, Mickey, a border collie who works the sheep on the Heber-Reno sheep trail, tells the story of how he, his mom, dad and brothers herd 2000 sheep for 220 miles up to Greer, AZ, in the White Mountains. Mickey talks about his dad, Champ, who is hard working and very smart, Chispa, his mom, who is expecting puppies soon and his three brothers, Chochie, Duke and Azul. The journey to the White Mountains is a lengthy trip full of dust, rattlesnakes and cactus, but Mickey and his family push on and herd the sheep through fields, around fences and through gates to their destination. Mickey ends his story by saying, “We are strong… work hard… love our handlers and herders and they love us too.” Dog lovers will especially enjoy sharing Mickey’s adventures on the sheep trail.
Very Hairy Christmas, A
Juan, Josefina and José are three little javelinas waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. They are baking him special spicy cookies! Santa comes down the chimney that night with a “Huff-Puff!,” then corrects himself, saying, “I mean - Ho-Ho-Ho. “ Santa samples the javelina gingerbread cookies and howls with a sneeze, a shriek and a siren, “Holy jalapeños!” as he munches into the chile pepper-spiced cookies. Smoke blows out of his ears and his fake beard and mustache fly off, revealing that he is actually a sly Coyote. “A very Hairy Christmas to All!” shouts Josefina Javelina as she gives Coyote a very hairy kiss.
Whose Tail on the Trail at Grand Canyon?
A mom and dad and their two children visit the Grand Canyon and watch as various animals hop and run away from them as they hike the trail. They try and guess whose tail they see on the trail, while readers try and guess, too, by observing the back end of the animal as it disappears around the next page. This entertaining hike down the Canyon is written by Midji Stephenson, a retired children’s librarian and volunteer at the Grand Canyon National Park with illustrations by the very talented artist, Kenneth Spengler.

About Ann Dickinson

Dickinson is a children’s and teen librarian in the Collection Development Office of the Pima County Public Library. She has been working in the library field all of her adult life and loves reading children’s and teen books.

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