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Book Review of Chico and Dan

Chico and Dan
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School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Keith takes readers to a cattle ranch in Nevada around 1915. At age 11, Dan Deweese has left home and come to work for his great-uncle Buck Boyce. Dan's first meeting with the cantankerous old rancher is not exactly heartwarming. However, Buck grudgingly agrees to let the boy stay in the bunkhouse with the rest of the hired hands. The day after he arrives at the ranch "a force came into his life that was to change its entire direction." A wild colt, just a few hours old, wanders in among the saddle horses. Buck orders it destroyed, but Dan convinces the old man to let him keep the orphan. The boy and his horse quickly become inseparable friends. Chico proves to be a natural cow horse but Uncle Buck still won't change his negative opinion of wild horses. When his six new steeldust mares are stolen by a wild mustang, Dan and his pony become involved in the long process of reclaiming them. Throughout the course of the book, he meets the close-knit folks who run the Bar-B ranch. They take him under their wing and give him a sense of family. Keith displays an extensive knowledge of horses, cattle ranching, local dialect, and the way of life around the turn of the century. The story moves quickly with the author's spare and succinct use of descriptors. This fine novel will encourage readers to learn more about the period. A book for horse lovers and historical-fiction buffs.-Kit Vaughan, J. B. Watkins Elementary School, Midlothian, VA