Thursday, April 15, 2010

Childhood Dreams

As a young girl, my favorite heroine was Annie Oakley, a rootin' tootin' cowgirl. Being a bit of a tomboy, she fascinated me. She was a woman who stood as an equal among men, something to aspire to in my generation and yet she had already done it, with grace and style in what was considered very much, a man's world.

Another young cowboy, Charlie Russell, did as much to fill childhood dreams of the Wild West. Living most of his life in the West, he became a frontiersman at a young age in 1880. His extraordinary artistic talent captured the essence of this frontier. No other artist had spent so much time working with horses on a daily basis like Charlie Russell, making his acclaimed artwork a true replication of the spirit of the region. A beloved Western figure, Russell, is a storyteller, environmentalist, a man ahead of his time because of his passion for the American cowboy.

Lois V. Harris, a storyteller in her own right, brings Charlie Russell to life in her new non-fiction picture-book, Charlie Russell Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist. Using Russell's art on each page, Harris tells the story of a young boy who dreamed of being a cowboy. Although his teachers didn't find it amusing when Charlie drew pictures instead of doing his homework, the young artist preferred history and adventure to math.

The book chronicles the life and times of this American artist from his childhood to the time he bought his first wide-brimmed hat, horse and saddle. The joy and hardships of the world of the cowboy literally sing from the pages like tumbling tumbleweeds across the prairie.

Lois Harris, has written both fiction and non-fiction for children's magazines, the L.A. Times and two picture-book biographies. Her storytelling creates visions for children of history as living, vibrant stories, encouraging children to read and write, to follow their dreams. Even an old writer who still dreams of riding a Pinto pony with her hat bouncing merrily on her back, thinks history is best told through stories.

A delightful read for around the campfire or cuddled in a warm bed. I especially like the last quote by Charlie Russell a few months before he died, at age 62. "I lived to play and I'm playing yet." Yes, that indeed, is what a wise grandma would do.

To pick up this beautiful picture-book for your child, go to your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Borders or order online from or There is a story in every picture and childhood dreams on every page.

Charlie Russell Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist
by Lois V. Harris
Publisher - Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

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