A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that young children may need some help distinguishing real from pretend in this story, but the spirit of the tale will be easy for them to grasp.
What's the story?
A tall tale set in the Old West, the story features a small cowgirl with big abilities. In the tradition of the genre, Rose MacGruder could both speak and lift a cow, as well as hold lightning and thunder in her hands, from the time she was a newborn. Her parents loved and admired her so much that they burst into song. The baby said, "There is a music ringing so sweetly in my ears .... I'll register it here at the bull's-eye set in the center of my heart, and see what I can do with it one day!"
Her parents called her Thunder Rose because of her power over the elements, but also because of the sound of her snoring. By two years old Rose could bend iron, by five stake a fence by herself, and by the time she was twelve she could corral 2200 longhorn steer single-handedly (lulling the lead bull she later named Tater with a song). She invented barbed wire in her spare time. Her biggest challenge, however, was a tornado that split in two and headed right for her. Riding her trusty bull, Tater, Thunder Rose began to sing from her heart. The power of her song calmed the storm.
Is it any good?
Life is good for the MacGruder family, and the atmosphere in the story is cheerful. The author says in a note that she wanted to tell the little known history of African-American people who moved West after the Civil War and settled on the prairies. She goes on to say, "I wanted to construct a tale out of love and joy, one told from the perspective of that 'fortunate feeling' that dwells deep within each of us." She succeeds wholeheartedly.
Kadir Nelson's gorgeous oil, watercolor, and pencil illustrations are filled with brilliant blue skies, billowing clouds, and open spaces all seen from the eye level of a child. Move over Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Swamp Angel, here comes Thunder Rose, a singing heroine, both brave and joyful. Her story will leave you smiling.