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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - DIRTY COWBOY
The Dirty Cowboy
The Dirty Cowboy
written by Amy Timberlake
illustrated by Adam Rex
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-31791-7
Ages 4—8

You know, there’s something to be said about loyalty and obedience, but Eustace Shackleford Montana may have gone too far the day his cowboy took a bath. When the Cowboy said, “Dawg! No one touches these clothes but me. Hear?”, Eustace took the Cowboy at his word. What good dog wouldn’t? On that fateful day under the New Mexico sky, Eustace demonstrated his dedication to his Cowboy . . . to the limit. That’s definitely an A+ dog and THE DIRTY COWBOY written by Amy Timberlake and illustrated by Adam Rex is an A+ book.

Ms. Timberlake writes a very funny and engaging tale of a cowboy who takes a bath only once a year. Bet kids would love that! She tells a story of a cowboy who sings of rivers flowin’, cattle lowin’, and cowboys crowin’ a combination that will surely have KIDDLES howlin’. (Okay so it doesn’t rhyme, but you get the gist.)

Then illustrator, Adam Rex, steps in to complete the package -- and he does it in such a clever way. The hilarious images he paints of the cowboy cavorting “nearly nekkid” across the pages present a very funny picture -- one that will capture readers, both young and old, city-slickers and prairie-dwellers, and maybe even a doodlebug or two.

This review, unlike my regular reviews written from my home in the New York City metropolitan area, was written under the clear New Mexico sky with no dust devil or smudgy rainbow in sight, but I did see a small gray spider scurry by a few moments ago.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“The dirty cowboy was funny,” said Kaya.

“He was very dirty,” said Jake.

Tina nodded. “That cowboy definitely needed a bath,” she said.

“Yeah,” said Jaina, “He was strange smelling,”

“It’s gross to have ticks in your hair,” said Treska, “ and fleas!” She scrunched up her nose.

“I don’t think that cowboy ever took a bath,” said Emma, “ . . . in his whole life!”

“That cowboy was crazy,” said Jaina, “and crazy cowboys never bathe!”

“I take a bath . . . like every Sunday or something,” said Kaya.

“Well, if I didn't take a bath for a whole year, I would be all smelly,” said Annie.

“I wouldn’t have any friends,” said Tina.

“ And no one would want to play with me,” said Roberto.

Tina giggled. “I’d just stay in my house and never come out,” she said.

“Yeah, but how many parents would let you get away with it?” asked Jake.

“Well, if you were a cowboy living in the west, you could take a bath in the river,” said Kiley.

“Or in the bathtub or the shower?” said Barry.

“It’s better to go in the bathtub,” said Jake, “but sometimes people flush the toilet and it gets really cold.”

“I take a bath in the bathtub because you get to use fresh water and soap,” said Philippe.

“Yeah!” agreed Ethan, “And you have toys to play with.”

“But, cowboys lived long ago” said Jaina, “They didn’t have bathtubs.”

“There’s one thing I don’t get though,” said Ethan, “Wouldn’t it have made sense if he had taken a bath sooner?

Tina shook her head. “I think the cowboy should have just stayed stinky,” she said, “There was nobody to smell him . . . only the dog and the horse. So it was worth it to stay stinky.”

Treska giggled. “It was funny when the dog thought the cowboy was somebody else,” she said, “He wouldn’t let the cowboy have his clothes.”

“The cowboy should NOT have let the dog look after his clothes in the first place,” said Tina, “What was the cowboy thinking?”

“I think the dog did the right thing,” said Emma, “because he listened to what the cowboy said.”

“Well, the dog was very honest,” said Treska, “He thought that that was not his cowboy. And . . . he kept his promise to not give the cowboy’s clothes to anybody.”

Kaya giggled. “I always keep my promises,” she said.



No one can deny the dirty cowboy had poor hygiene. I mean thirty-two lice and a doodlebug should be proof enough – don’t you think? Well, anyhow, that doodlebug drove the cowboy to take his once-a-year-bath down in the old river. I know the KIDDLES have better sense than that cowboy, and here’s a game to prove it.

Have the children sit in a circle. Each child takes a turn calling on another and asking one of the questions below. Spend as much time on each question as you feel comfortable.

When a child addresses a female child, he or she will say, “Hi, Jean . . .”
When a child addresses a male child, he or she will say, “Hi, Gene . . .”
Okay time to get down to the dirty nitty gritty.

Hi Jean/Gene, when (or how often) do you take a bath?

Possible answers:
. . . every night
. . . when I slip in a mud puddle.

Hi Jean/Gene, when do you wash your hands?

Possible answers:
. . . before eating
. . . when I sneeze

Hi Jean/Gene, when do you brush your teeth?

Possible answers:
. . . after eating
. . . before bed

Hi Jean/Gene, how many hours of sleep do you get?

Possible answers:
. . . eight
. . . not enough

Hi Jean/Gene, what is your favorite healthy food?

Possible answers:
. . . apples
. . . carrots

Hi Jean/Gene, what do you like to do for exercise?

Possible answers:
. . . climb a mountain
. . . play soccer


Prepare the following checklist. Have the children place a checkmark next to each hygiene activity that they take part in each day.

M_ _T_ _W_ _Th_ _F

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands before eating
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands after using the bathroom
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands after sneezing
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth before coming to school
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth after meals (when possible)
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth before going to bed
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ take a bath before going to bed or in morning before school
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hair
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush or comb hair
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ put on clean clothes (all the way down to the underwear)


It took the dirty cowboy nearly the whole day to get to the river. Do you think if he had a map he could have found a more direct route? I mean following fence lines . . . come on . . . there must be an easier way. Try playing GRAPH IT! MAP IT! – and I promise it won’t take you all day.

Draw a 10 x 10 grid on the chalkboard.
Number the Horizontal coordinates A, B, C ->
Number the Vertical coordinates 1, 2, 3 ->
Label several coordinates with a location in your school.

Ex. Library = 3-B; Principal’s Office 6-J; Lunchroom 4-A

Have children locate each place on the map.

Give each child a blank grid. Have them plot their own coordinates and ask a friend to locate them.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

KidsHealth – Kids
The ChildFun Family Website Health & Hygiene


PHOEBE CLAPSADDLE and the TUMBLEWEED GANG by Melanie Chrismer, illustrated by Virginia Marsh Roeder
NO MORE BATHS by Brock Cole
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