Hot on the Range, written by R.D Jentsch and illustrated by David C. Bryant is a delightful tale about a very hot paint horse named Chester. He tries everything he can think of to cool off but can't escape the hot Texas sun. It's too hot to roll in the dirt, smelling a flower results leads to a thorn in his nose, and when he tries to get a drink from the watering trough there's a long line of other hot barnyard animals already there. Finally Chester decides to follow the cow to the master's birdbath to try and find a cool refreshing drink. Only the cow is so thirsty that she drinks it all!
Just when he thinks he might be in trouble, for being in the master's yard right by the empty bird bath, he finds out his master is really a very gentle and caring one. She helps Chester finally find relief from the hot, hot, hot summer by spraying him with water from the hose. Chester thinks it's just like rain and is finally cooled off. His master even helps him further by removing the thorn from his nose; then all better Chester meets up with his best friend a palamino horse named Willie. The story ends with them both relaxing in the shade.
Author R.D. Jentsch is an fifteen year veteran of the horse industry and has fourteen horses. She's a native Texan who resides on a ranch outside of Wimberley, Texas. Her many years of experience as an avid horsewoman help her convey Chester the horse's unique personality, no doubt based on some of her horse friends! Jentsch's tale was written to help teach children about the kinder, gentler side of horsemanship.
We found that Jentsch's real life experience with horse enhanced the story and introduced my daughter to many new concepts that, we as her life long suburban dwelling parents, have no experience wtih. It's not just a narrative that happens to have a horse as the main character, through the story you also learn about horse characteristics and how they move around.
My nearly three year old found Hot on the Range to be a highly engaging book as horses and farm animals are of high interest to her. The storyline and simple but realistic watercolor illustrations kept her attention. Preview more of the story's illustrations by viewing the slide show set to guitar music on the book's site. Not only was this book a real page turner for for my daughter, it's quickly becoming a favorite read. In fact, I had a hard time getting the book away from her when it came time for me to write this review. I finally found our copy, in her bed along side her stuffed horse.
I liked how through her descriptive word choices Jentsch really convayed Chester's lively personality. The vocabulary is sophisticated and introduced new words that my daughters was previously unfamiliar with such as: palomino, prance, bleat, trough, lounging, and sauntered. What is also neat about this book is how the text treatment enhances the overall story. For instance when the two horses roll in the dirt, the text rolls along with them, and important lines of the story or enlarged to really stand out and lend further emphasis to them.
Hot on the Range is a wonderful book that would enhance many learning units, such as a farm theme. I think it's an excellent read aloud for children aged 3-6 and that for most second graders would still be a challenging read. Since a series of events happen, it would be a good candidate for a story retelling or story sequencing activity. Due to the advanced vocabulary, it's also a good book to use in conjunction with word walls with early elementary grades. Young writers could write about a hot, hot, hot day and what they would do to cool off . Another fun writing extention would be to read most of the story, stop at the point where the master finds Chester in her yard, and have your students write their ending to the story. After everyone is finished it would fun to then read the Jentsch's ending and compare it to their own.
We really enjoyed our review copy and look forward to seeing more quality children's literature from R.D. Jentsch, an exciting new author! Look for her new title Froggy and Friends Go to the Creek set to be released at the end of August!