Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
illustrated by Lane Smith
Oh what a happy day when two of my favorite picture book authors/illustrators have come together to make this book. “Drywater Gulch had a toad problem.” And since Drywater Gulch looks like a town nestled in the midst of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah, the pesky toads that are a problem are not the toads that hop around…these toads are the typical Western outlaws that “never-say-thank-you outlaw kind of toad.” And quite the toad problem it is. These three rough, tough outlaws just about scared the pants off of everyone in Drywater Gulch. Thankfully “hope rode into town. [enter Kid Sheriff riding into town] Slowly. On a tortoise. [dramatic page turn] Give him a minute.” And although the town initially doesn’t believe that Kid Sheriff can help at all, he turns out to be smarter than all three of the toads put together…and the rest of the town too. It is amazing what a kid can do, eh?
So, the brilliant story is one that kids will enjoy (and I desperately wish I could tell at a storytime tomorrow), but what about the illustrations? Do not worry. The illustrations are in the brilliant hands of Lane Smith. Are there bits of money and coins that fly out of the bank explosion? Check. Are there layers upon layers of foreground and background images that perfectly frame the main illustrations of the characters? Double check. Are there detailed drawings of dinosaurs that could destroy a Western town? Triple check. Seriously, these illustrations are masterfully crafted so that readers could spend hours looking at all the details as they laugh along with the storyline.
This is one of my all-time favorite books for 2014. Here’s to hoping that there are more wonderful books in store for both Bob Shea and Lane Smith. The world needs more stories from them both.
Roaring Brook Press, 2014
FORMAT: Picture Book
AGES: Preschool, Elementary