Children’s author, Maria Ashworth asked me to review her latest children’s book, ‘Tommy James: The Littlest Cowboy in Reckon’. My daughter Molly is a huge bookworm so I knew she would enjoy us reading the book together.
‘Tommy James: The Littlest Cowboy in Reckon’ is a cowboy’s story of wit and determination. Tommy James never had a problem being the littlest cowboy in Reckon. Well, at least until Bo Jones came to town and started bullying Tommy because he was small. Tommy James may be little but he knows how to wrangle in a bully like Bo Jones.
The main character, Tommy James, seems like a really lovable character. Tommy’s confidence takes a knock and he starts to have doubts about himself when Bo Jones starts bullying him. As the story progresses we see Tommy’s confidence and self-belief grow, which is what makes Tommy such a likeable character. He had the determination and he didn’t give up, even when others didn’t believe in him.
I was slightly confused with how the problem of the escaping cattle was solved to begin with. Being from the UK, I am not really up on my cowboy knowledge but my mum informed me that cowboys used to sing to their cattle to keep them calm. You learn something new every day!
Even when Tommy was the town’s hero he didn’t make a big deal out of it. It would have been easy for Tommy to gloat and make nasty remarks to Bo Jones but he didn’t. Instead, Tommy politely accepted Bo’s invitation to work together and that was the end of it. This sends a positive message about acceptance of all people, and about how working in a team can be beneficial for everyone.
I loved the moral behind this story as it sends a fantastic message about believing in yourself and your abilities. Tommy James didn’t need to dress up to be a good cowboy; he already was. He just needed to have some self-belief.
There are many opportunities for teachable moments in this story. With the younger children, you could discuss what you can see in each picture, the colours, animals etc. For the older children, there are many opportunities for meaningful discussions. For example, the impact a bully can have on a person, why we should be determined and believe in ourselves, and about the importance of working as a team.
At two, Molly is a little young to understand the message the book portrays but she really seemed to enjoy the story. Molly enjoyed our time sitting together reading, she loved the illustrations and she enjoyed laughing at my attempts at a cowboy accent. While younger children will enjoy the story, I think it would be more suitable for children aged four and over.
The books illustrations were fantastic. Not only were they engaging but the colours were really vivid. Molly was captivated and enjoyed looking at all the features of each picture.
So what’s the verdict?
I thought ‘Tommy James: The Littlest Cowboy in Reckon’ was a really sweet book with a great moral to it. Both Molly and I really enjoyed reading it together. The characters and plot were great and really kept our interest. There is a universal message reminding us to always believe in ourselves, and not to be intimated by bullies.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Maria included a little song with lyrics and music at the back of the book. It was a lovely addition and both Molly and I had lots of fun singing and dancing around (like real life cowgirls of course!)
The ‘cowboy’ language used in the book made the story seem more authentic. But, as I was reading I couldn’t help but think the book would be more suited to an American audience. Mainly because a lot of the language used wouldn’t necessarily be used in the United Kingdom. At least not as often anyway.
Having said that, this didn’t take away from our enjoyment of the book – I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did Molly. I think cowboy loving girls and boys around the globe will also enjoy the story as much as we did.
‘Tommy James: The Littlest Cowboy in Reckon’ is the first book in a series. It will be followed up with ‘Tommy James Meets Doodlin’ Darla’ (due for release in 2018), and then ‘Tommy James Meets Cactus Jack’ (due for release in 2019). I am really looking forward to reading the next books in the series, especially if they too have a nice moral to them.
If you like the sound of ‘Tommy James: The Littlest Cowboy in Reckon’ and would like to read it for yourself, you can buy it from the following places:
Disclaimer: I was kindly given a Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.