1938 Honor: Pecos Bill – The Greatest Cowboy of All Time (a roundup of tall tales)

VERDICT: Trash!!!

Sally’s Rating: 2/5

In Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time, folklorist James Cloyd Bowman retraces the legendary figure’s wild adventures throughout his time growing up with coyotes to becoming a leader of cowboys and inventing the art of cowpunching.

A collection of tall tales, this book glorifies the frontier lifestyle, with characters that are bigger than life and every tall tale leading to an even taller tale. If you’ve enjoyed the stories of Paul Bunyan, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, you’ll most likely find merit in this one.

Because of the time it was written, there is some derogatory language towards Native American tribes sprinkled throughout the narrative that is eye-roll inducing. The style of language is a bit outdated for children today, and the sheer length and density of the novel (300 pages) makes me hesitant to recommend it to younger readers. If looking to learn more about Pecos Bill, reading a chapter or two of this book will give you the flavor of the era and a look into the broad American humor of the frontier, but finishing the whole book becomes a lesson in repetition as there is little variance in the stories.

Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time will definitely not be gracing my Top Books of All Time list despite being the Newbery Honor book of 1938, but there is some cultural worth to knowing your American legends, I guess.


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