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‘Cowgirls and Dinosaurs—Big Trouble in Little Spittle’ GN (review)

Written and Illustrated by Lucie Ebrey
Published by Razorbill/Penguin-Random House


The title of the new tween graphic novel, Cowgirls and Dinosaurs: Big Trouble in Little Spittle, clearly plays off of two unrelated movies, Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs (2015) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986), despite the fact that the book’s intended readership has most likely never seen nor even heard of either film. Just an observation.

At 289 pages, Cowgirls and Dinosaurs: Big Trouble in Little Spittle, by Lucie Ebrey, initially seemed way too long to me to be a children’s book but then I started reading it and it flows so well that it really isn’t that long a read at all.

I should point out that the book, published by the Razorbill imprint of Penguin-Random House, was reviewed from an uncorrected proof. The version I have suffered from blurry illustrations throughout and lettering that at times barely fit into the balloons.

Being from a major publisher, I presume these issues—neither of which affected my enjoyment of the story—will not be present in the final product.

And enjoy it I did!

This is one of those books where there are lessons to be learned but the fact that they’re concealed in a solid, rip-roaring adventure story makes them a bit more palatable than hitting the reader over the head with them. The whole story is paced beautifully, with a number of endearing characters, but most especially our heroines, Abigail and Clementine.

I forget who it was who said it, and I’m paraphrasing here, but some writer (Alan Moore?) once said that he would ask you to believe only one impossible thing in a story and everything else would logically flow out of that.

Lucie Ebrey asks the reader to believe that the dinosaurs weren’t killed off.

Instead, they survived and many were domesticated.

Abigail’s dinosaur pet and steed is called Rootbeer, while she calls herself the Sarsaparilla Kid. Her great desire in life is to be a deputy sheriff. Clementine is, in fact, living Abigail’s dream as the pintsized pre-teen deputy to her father, the sheriff of Little Spittle.

When a mysterious figure known as the Bandit Queen sends her three younger brothers to find and steal the legendary “Calcified Heart,” a gem-encrusted rock that supposedly can give its owner “dinomagik,” the two young rivals form an at first reluctant partnership to go after it and save the kidnapped townspeople.

That’s the adventure part.

The real story is about how their quest leads both young people to an unexpected acceptance of their real selves and the ultimate realization that one should never try to be what’s expected of them, just what they are. Never aim for someone else’s goals for you.

Set your own, according to your own skills and passions, and go for them.

In fact, along the way, several other characters develop this realization as well, and never in any way that’s the least bit heavy-handed. It’s all in character, all in the natural flow of the story. It’s a tightrope act, and Lucie Ebrey has proven in Cowgirls and Dinosaurs—Big Trouble in Little Spittle to be more than adept enough to produce a book that all children are likely to see themselves in to one degree or another.

I’m going to remember the name—Lucie Ebrey.

Can’t wait to see what this impressive talent does next.


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