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Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale

Last updated Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Author: Steven Kellogg
Date of Publication: 1992
ISBN: 0780723929
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2013

Synopsis: School Library Journal Review
The anecdotes associated with Texas' fabled cowboy hero burst from the pages in rapid succession, Kellogg's robust illustrations enlarging and enriching the choppy, energetic text that is seasoned with Texan expressions. In dramatizing Pecos Bill's life story, Kellogg also conveys a sense of place, of the rugged, expansive physical beauty of the American West in pioneer days. Yellow-oranges and blues dominate the scenes, in tones that range from dust-pale to midnight blue. Skillful framing and alternating of perspectives enhance readers' involvement: vast panoramas in which people are dwarfed by endless stretches of land and sky; double-page spreads cluttered with close-up action; breathtaking overviews, as of a tremendous herd of cattle, each steer made distinct, yet part of a near-monochromatic blend of hazy light and animal landscape. In contrast to these lavish illustrations are neatly-boxed illustrations that parallel the text, sometimes spilling from the frames when the action simply can't be contained. Kellogg's style is ideally suited to this tall taleantic, detailed, colorful, hyperbolic.

Note to readers:
•  There is a cartoon map on the back inside cover that volunteers may find helpful to refer to while reading. You can learn more about Pecos Bill and the author on the back inside cover as well.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is Pecos Bill? Have you ever heard of him?
•  What is Pecos Bill doing on the cover?
•  What animals do you see on the cover?

•  Rugged- rocky, rough, or steep
•  Pioneer- someone who ventures into unknown or unclaimed territory to settle it
•  Kinfolk- relatives, kindred
•  Clan- a large group of relatives
•  Lasso- a long rope used to catch horses and cattle
•  Hullabaloo- great noise or excitement
•  Stallion- an adult male horse

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Would Bill's Ma like living in LA?
•  What did the coyotes teach Bill?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a cowboy hat out of construction paper and the provided cardboard rolls. Place the roll in the center of a piece of construction paper and use it to trace a circle shape. Next, draw a wider circle around the circle you've traced. Cut along the outer circle--this is your hat brim. Attach the hat brim to the cardboard roll with tape or glue. Next, take another piece of construction paper and decorate it. Paste or tape this piece of paper around the cardboard roll with the decorative side facing out. You've now created your very own decorative hat-- make sure to bend the hat brim for that authentic cowboy look!
•  Draw a monster out of a combination of animals (like the one Bill encounters).
•  Draw a picture of cattle or horses and cut out the animals. Glue a "lasso" made of yarn to the animals.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!