In my classroom, I have a basket of books labeled "About Country Life"... and in it are all my favorite "cowboy" books. When I was little, I remember saying, "I want to be a cowboy when I grow up, just like Curtis" (he's my brother-in-law and I've written about him many times, if you search my blog archives you can read all about him... and, by the way, he's still hanging in there). Mrs. Cannon had our entire class interviewed in "Heckart's Market" by the local radio station. And, something about that six-year-old dream still sticks with me. I haven't ridden a horse in years, I haven't helped brand cattle since I was about 16-years-old, and can you imagine what a pair of size 13 cowboy boots would look like? But, there's a part of me that still remembers... especially the songs! I'm still a country buff and loves "old" country music and I'm partial to the Sons of the Pioneers.
I also happen to love Deborah Hopkinson's work. In this book, she writes a delightful "biography" based on the life of John Avery Lomax, a "musicologist." She brilliantly captures his life growing up in Texas and his love for music. John Lomax didn't grow up to be a "cowboy" either, but he did grow up to be a searcher of songs. He was a music hunter (sounds like a good show on TLC, eh?)! Traveling, collecting, recording... he was a collector of folk songs! Lomax attended the University of Texas and later Harvard. He focused his efforts on documenting the cowboy songs that drifted through this childhood memories... and even attempted to collect recordings of them being sung by real cowboys. Now that's a hobby!
And, I'm so glad Deborah Hopkinson captured his story... in detail, based on fact, and brilliantly inviting!