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Texas Tomboy

post written by Emma Filbrun

Title: Texas Tomboy
Author: Lois Lenski
Major Themes: Drought, Farming, Ranching, Texas
Synopsis: As her family struggles for survival during a terrible drought, Charlie struggles between being a tomboy and being the ladylike girl her mother wants her to be.

We started reading Texas Tomboy a few weeks ago, because I have a couple of boys who love Lois Lenski’s books and ask me to buy them for them when they earn a book. We read the first couple of chapters, and I was wondering if I really wanted to read this one, because Charlotte, always called Charlie, was such a horrible child. Well, we carried on, discussing at times the way she acted and why that wasn’t right. By the end of the book, the author had redeemed herself in my opinion and I was glad we had read it.

Charlie is the middle child of a family of ranchers in Texas. They are struggling to feed their cattle, in the fourth year of a severe drought. Charlie is her father’s right-hand man, and refuses to go to school—all she wants to do is ride the range with her father and help him. She can’t stand to work in the house, and her attitude toward her mother and being a lady is absolutely shocking.

Charlie helps with the cattle wherever she can. The whole family suffers from the drought—and so do the neighbors. Charlie can’t stand them. These neighbors, instead of running cattle, are plowing the ground and trying to grow crops. Charlie thinks they ought to leave the country, so she torments them. She also torments one of her father’s cowboys. Would the rain come before everyone was totally ruined? And would Charlie ever learn to see things from another person’s point of view?

As I said in the beginning, I did not like this book at the beginning. I didn’t start seeing much change in Charlie’s attitudes until the last two or three chapters, but then it turned out pretty good. I would not recommend just handing this book to young girls; in my opinion, it is best read together so you can discuss the bad attitudes and actions, and talk about the positive changes that happen. It is good for showing the hard side of farming and ranching. Cowboys are not shown in a romantic light in this story! It is very realistic. Be warned, dead animals are mentioned several times, and Charlie even kills snakes a couple of times.

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