Home on the Range

  • Home on the Range

January 22, 2009
Putnam Juvenlie
Ages 9-12

Widely acclaimed for her award-winning picture books, Deborah Hopkinson presents the amazing story of John A. Lomax, the fi rst man to popularize such great American folk songs as "Sweet Betsy from Pike," "Git Along Little Dogies" and, of course, "Home on the Range."

When John was a boy in Texas, he wrote down all he'd learned from cowboys. Years later, with the encouragement of a beloved teacher, John set out on a cross-country trip to fi nd more songs for a book. Taking along his clunky Ediphone recording device, he convinced cowboys and Gypsies to sing for him and soon he had hundreds of songs preserved for generations to come.

S. D. Schindler's gorgeous art brings the West alive in this inspiring story of discovery, which shows that if you love something as a child, you don't have to give it up as an adult!


From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 1-4-This lovely picture-book biography of the noted musicologist describes his youth in Texas where he enjoyed singing as he worked on the family ranch and he listened to cowboys singing as they traveled the old Chisholm Trail. Lomas taught for a few years, but his passionate interest in music won out and led him to become an extraordinary collector of folk songs. Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations radiate warmth, charm, and humor, highlighting expressive features and striking individuality. The handsome artwork is full of energy and authenticity, and includes faithful and appealing renditions of animals and bucolic landscapes. Excerpts from some songs appear prominently. Addendum material includes additional details about Lomax, his family, and their legacy; information about the Library of Congress archival collection of songs; and a list of other sources.-Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA
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From Booklist
This picture book traces the early life of John Avery Lomax (1867-1948), whose childhood love of cowboy songs led to a career collecting and recording America's folk songs. His discovery of the now-familiar "Home on the Range" is featured on two double-page spreads, but the book covers much more ground than that. Nicely written for a young audience, it portrays Lomax growing up on a Texas farm, attending two universities, and traveling about the country as a young man with an unusual calling: song hunting. Throughout the book, appealing line-and-wash illustrations depict believably quirky individuals within nicely composed settings. The landscapes are particularly fine. In the appended author's note, Hopkinson calls the book historical fiction "based closely on the life of John Avery Lomax," but it's unclear what parts are fictional. The book concludes with a note on sources and a brief bibliography. Grades 1-3. --Carolyn Phelan

NPR - Who Were the Cowboys Behind the Songs?