Great Illustrated Books

Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp

By Denise Fleming

Henry Holt and Co. , 2008
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 3-7
ISBN: 0805078924

I love Denise Fleming's paper pulp-illustrated picture books in general, but this one left me howling, it's that cute. You may already be acquainted with Buster, a soulful reddish-brown dog with black-tipped paws, ears and nose, from his eponymous first book, Buster, where he had to come to terms with an intruder in the house, a new white cat named Betty.

Now Buster's owner, Brown Shoes, is going away for the weekend, and Buster is none too happy to be dropped off at Sagebrush Kennels' Cowboy Camp. Red Boots (a man whom we only see from a dog's-eye view as blue pant bottoms and pointy red cowboy boots) greets Buster with a great big cowboy howdy, ties a jaunty blue bandana around the dog's neck, and gives him the "tenderfoot tour of the camp." Still, Buster is homesick. It's not easy sleeping on his lumpy bed in the bunkhouse, especially with the dog next to him "sleeping and snoring and drooling."

The camp activities of the next day perk him right up. He paints a Wanted poster, plays buckaroo ball, howls along with cowboy songs, helps build a campfire, and eats beans and bacon for dinner. As Buster discovers his heretofore-untapped talents, he lets down his guard, and has a great day. Then he hits the hay for some sleeping, snoring, and drooling of his own. Fleming's illustrations are filled with desert colors, saguaro cacti, and lots of good cheer.

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If you love this book, then try:

Fleming, Denise. Alphabet under Construction. Henry Holt, 2002.

Fleming, Denise. Buster. Henry Holt, 2003.

Fleming, Denise. The Cow Who Clucked. Henry Holt, 2006.

Fleming, Denise. In the Small, Small Pond. Henry Holt, 1993.

Fleming, Denise. In the Tall, Tall Grass. Henry Holt, 1991.

Fleming, Denise. Lunch. Henry Holt, 1992.

Harvey, Amanda. Dog Eared. Doubleday, 2002.

Kalman, Maira. What Pete Ate from A-Z. Putnam, 2001.

Kirk, Daniel. Dogs Rule! Hyperion, 2003.

Laden, Nina. Bad Dog. Walker, 2000.

Meddaugh, Susan. Martha Walks the Dog. Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Meyers, Susan. Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Abrams, 2005.

Teague, Mark. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School. Scholastic, 2002. (And others in the Ike LaRue series.)

Critics have said

The artist's signature pulp-painting illustrations are perfect: they're full of sun-baked colors and dry, sandy textures with personality on every dog's face. The story is ideal preparation for children anticipating a first sleepover away from home or a first summer camp venture.