Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: Charlie, the Ranch Dog (dog, Oklahoma ranch)

Charlie the Ranch Dog, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2011, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Delightful, humorous (and relaxing) book, from the front cover to the last page (the page before or after The Pioneer Woman’s [and Charlie’s] favorite lasagna recipe for kids to make).

Charlie is a Ranch Dog

The colorful cover tells all – Charlie on the porch with a puppy, veggies from the garden, cowboy boots (adult- and kid-sized), a triangle to ring to ring the gang in to dinner, and a coil of rope hanging on a hook, perhaps a lasso.

Charlie the canine is a lovable old fellow with very short legs and very long ears. He explains that a ranch dog’s work is never done – breakfast (too early), sniffing the porch steps for critters, barking Daisy the cow out of the yard, morning nap by the garden, napping near the fence, lunchtime, afternoon nap, barking the cows out of the garden, a quick nap before dinner. . . . yup, a ranch dog’s work is never done.

The Story Will Bring a Smile

Charlie’s book is a big one about everyday life in the country, with more than one picture on each page. Simple yet detailed illustrations depict ranch life for those who have never visited a western ranch (or even a working ranch in Oklahoma like Charlie’s). The full-page spread of Charlie in the barn is so lifelike it will remind you of the Budweiser Superbowl puppy ads.

Diane deGroat’s artwork makes the book, but so does Drummond’s story with its humor and twists, so rare in children’s books but so cute that little ones giggle and remember them, e.g., about the relationship between Charlie and the younger dog, Suzie, whom Charlie “permits” to do the hard stuff so she will learn. Tom Sawyer, anyone?

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman and an Amazing Author

Ann Marie (“Ree”) has led a simply fascinating life – a doctor’s daughter, California college sorority girl who met and married a rancher (her Marlboro Man) and ended up in Oklahoma, homeschooling four children while blogging about being a neophyte on a ranch (Black Heels to Tractor Wheels*)** – and cooking (Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl). With boundless energy, Drummond appears on TV cooking shows and has recently opened a restaurant and store, The Mercantile, in beautiful downtown Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

*In the works, hopefully: a movie starring Reese Witherspoon as Ree
**Drummond’s blog, ‘Confessions of a Pioneer Woman,’ has received the WebBlog of the Year award not once, but twice.

Next: Charlie and the Christmas Kitty

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