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Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat Hardcover – 1 Mar 2010
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About the Author
Author Susan Stevens Crummel had some firsthand experience before writing Ten-Gallon Bart. As a high school teacher in Texas, one of her extra-curricular duties was sponsoring the rodeo club. Little did she know she’d have to ride a steer in the sponsor’s rodeo. "As I clung to the beast’s gigantic horns, I decided that the following year, I’d go back to coaching the math team!" she said. Susan also likes to tell stories about her great-great uncle Harvey Doyle, an expert rider and trick roper in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the early 1900s. Besides collaborating with Dorothy Donohue on three other picture books, she has collaborated with her sister, Janet Stevens, on The Great Fuzz Frenzy, And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, Cook-a-Doodle-Doo!, and Jackalope.
Illustrator Dorothy Donohue says that her dog Bart inspired Ten-Gallon Bart and Ten-Gallon Bart and the Wild West Show. Besides the books she’s done with Susan Stevens Crummel, she has also illustrated If Frogs Made Weather by Marion Bane Bauer and Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe by Susan Patron. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband James, their two children, and their two dogs.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
We also liked the paper cut images instead of drawings. They sparked some conversation and gave some artistic ideas to my 10-yr old daughter, who's more of the creative type.
Although the story puts a few unrealistic timelines in place, the overarching themes are quite healthy. One is the that looking for greener pastures isn't always going to turn out like you think, and that "home" is often quite fine if we would just consider it. Another nice theme is that true friends look out for each other and making sacrifices for friendship is a good thing.
Bart is a dog who gets too hot in Dog City. It was so hot the chickens were laying fried eggs, but he discovers the coolest place on Earth, Alaska. Cool is not all he discovered in Alaska, he found bears, dog sleds, lots of snow and more snow. Meanwhile back in Dog City Bart's friends were worried. Bart discovers that home may be the best place after all.
Picture books need to have interesting language that children will want to read and re-read. Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat has great language like this, "A grin spread over his face like syrup on pancakes." Picture books need to have illustrations that match the texts. Donohue's illustrations are cut illustrated paper. They appear simplistic at first glance, but a study shows the detail in each character and scene. My favorite illustration is Miss Pixie, one of the chickens, running around "like a chicken with her head cut off" Lastly, a picture book needs to be fun to read and re-read. This book has characters with great names, Wyatt Burp and Wild Bill Hiccup. The fun characters, language and bright pictures all add up to a fun book.
I don't like it as well as I like the team of sisters, Susan and Janet, but Susan's books are always fun.
That aside, it's a fun book. The story itself flows nicely, and encourages the use of some fun regional accents and sound effects. (The bears go "grr", the train Bart travels on goes CHUGGA-CHUGGA, etc.) At its heart, the story is simple: Bart lives in an unpleasantly hot climate and decides to cool off by heading for the frozen north, but he doesn't anticipate what he'll find there. I like that the book has some subliminal messages about unintended consequences and being grateful for the things you have, but it's very lighthearted and not at all preachy. There are also some nice messages in it about friendship. All of these themes are beautifully woven into the fun story.
The mixed media art is a lot of fun too. Bart looks like he's made out of textured paper set against the colorful backdrops of the book. When he travels north, there's a fun antique-style map that depicts his journey. The cow has curls that look like they're made of clay, and the chickens are made from what looks like an embossed white fabric. All of these elements add up to give the book a very tactile feel, even though the paper of the book itself is flat. It's as enjoyable to look at the textures of the pictures as it is to read the story.
This is a very well-made children's book, where both the text and the art have been crafted with the same amount of care and attention to detail. It's a fun book for both parents and children.
"Ten Gallon Bart Beats the Heat" is a very cute story that will kids will find very engaging. It also teaches them about Alaska (the weather.... and how far away it is from the American West) and that the grass is not always greener on the other side. For Bart... the heat of Dog City was inconvenient but he learned that things could certainly be worse!
We also enjoyed by the writing an illustration of "Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat". Both are non-typical - the narration is a bit colloquial and folksy. The illustration is, again, non-traditional. The characters are drawn as paper cut-outs with the backgrounds have a chalk-esque look.... pretty cool stuff.
Final Verdict - "Ten Gallon Bart Beats the Heat" is sure to bring a smile to any child ages 2-9. Due to the writing style, I wouldn't consider it a "reader" book for kids learning to read however it still would make a fine gift for any child.
The story is not very compelling, even for a kids' book. Bart leaves home searching for adventure, gets in trouble, and his friends help him. He's thankful to go home, and sorry he tried for something new.
I suppose it's here where I particularly questioned the book's message. Certainly, it is positive to teach kids to be loyal to their friends, and appreciate what they have. However, kids should be inspired to dream, too. I didn't like the fact that Bart immediately gave up when he faced some adversity when he moved to Alaska, and realized when his friends brought him back to Texas or wherever he was from that he never wanted to leave home again.
The ultimate litmus test of a kids' book though, is whether or not kids like to read it! And neither my 7-year old son nor 5.5 year old daughter were keen to hear the story when they saw the cover. They listened politely enough as I read it, but said they did not want to hear it again the following night I asked to read it to them, and have not asked for it since.