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Roundup at The Palace

What do you do when you are confronted by a bull in a hotel lobby? Sing to him!

Zack is heading to the National Western Stock Show in Denver with his father and their bull Buster. On the road, Zack and his dad sing every song they know while the snowfall turns into a blinding blizzard. They detour through the city. In Denver, Alice and her mother hurry to open the gift shop at the Brown Palace Hotel. The truck is stuck in traffic while Buster fidgets in the back. Suddenly he escapes! Down the sidewalk he charges right through the doors of the hotel. In the lobby, he fixes his sights on Alice. Zack catches up and calls to her, “Don’t move...” “Sing to him,” he urges. Alice obliges. Together they calm Buster with a cowboy song as Zack loops his rope through Buster’s halter. They lead him back to the truck, singing all the way.

According to the author’s note, Brown Palace Hotel hosts champion bulls in its lobby during the National Western Stock Show and this story is loosely based on a real incident. Like Zack’s beloved cowboy songs, Kathleen Cook Waldron’s story is well-paced, providing necessary detail while leaving out the non-essentials. Readers learn just enough about Zack and Alice to identify with them. The writing is strong and full of action words that build tension and excitement.

Alan and Lea Daniel have filled the pages with colour and motion. The illustrations are lively and leavened with humour. Buster bursts through the pages as he thunders down the street into the hotel. He is larger-than-life. When Buster confronts Alice, the readers have a birds-eye view: Buster’s great girth in the foreground and Alice, small and vulnerable, in the background. Yet girl triumphs over beast. Actually it is the pair of children, Zack and Alice, remaining calm and using their heads, who avert a near disaster. Roundup at The Palace is an original, entertaining and wholly satisfying story.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2006. Vol.29 No. 3.

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