Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea and Lane Smith

The book clarifies this on page two, so I’ll jump right in so everybody understands. Yes, Drywater Gulch had a problem with toads, but not the croaking, hopping kind. No. Drywater Gulch had a different sort of Toad problem. The Toad brothers.

“Why, those Toad brothers would steal your gold, kiss your cattle, and insult your chili. Hootin’, hollarin’, and cussin all the while.”

Now that’s a problem. The mayor was at a loss. Until … until …

Hope rode into town. Slowly. A boy, wearing white, riding a tortoise, and declaring himself the new sheriff. After all, he knows a lot about dinosaurs.

Okay, okay, I hear you. You were interested in the whole wild west thing, bad guys kissin’ cattle and all, and then you read about the tortoise and the dinosaurs and you were like, “Seems a bit sketchy to me. I don’t get it.”

Trust me. Kid Sheriff might not handle a shooting iron, ride a horse, know any rope tricks, or stay up past eight, but he makes a spectacular sheriff. When the bank gets robbed, the mayor suspects the Toad Brothers, and rightfully so. But Kid Sheriff declares it to be the work of T. rex. The stagecoach must be the Toad Brothers, right? Nope. Velociraptors.

Then the Toad Brothers themselves show up in town bragging - or trying to brag - about their antics, but Kid Sheriff has the real explanations. Cattle kissin’? Triceratops. Shoplifting at the mercantile? Allosaurus. And the chili insultin’ varmint was none other than Stegosaurus.

Now the Toad brothers are at a loss. How’s a nasty, gun-slingin’ gang supposed to get credit for their nefarious ways if gold stealin’, cattle kissin’, and chili insultin’ ain’t enough, dadgummit?!?

While you might not see a connection between a tortoise, dinosaurs, and the criminal old west, if you are already familiar with Bob Shea and Lane Smith’s work, you know a collaboration between these two author/illustrators will be something special. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads delivers a goofy story, dastardly villains, a clever hero, and a hilarious and satisfying conclusion in all its absurd glory.

Cowboys. Dinosaurs. Heroes. Villains. What’s not to like?

Not a dad-burned thing. Consarnit.

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