Hopkinson, Deborah. 2009. HOME ON THE RANGE: JOHN A. LOMAX AND HIS COWBOY SONGS. Ill. by S.D. Schindler. New York: Putnam. ISBN 9780399239960 [Suggested Grade Levels 3- 6]
As a youngster, John Lomax overhears the singing cowboys from the nearby Chisholm Trail. He loves the romantic sounds of the music and the expressive lyrics. To remember them, he writes down as many as he can. When John goes to college he hopes that his colleagues will share his long fascination with the music. Most think the tunes are silly and unworthy of attention, but a Harvard professor finally encourages him to share the songs with his classmates. The favorable responses give John confidence to learn more about the music and to collect more songs from all over the country. This fictionalized account credits Lomax with helping to document and preserve songs like “Home on the Range,” that might otherwise have slipped from American memory.
This narrative story is highlighted by colorful full-spread illustrations that provide the reader with details of clothing, machinery, and the lifestyles of this time period. Excellent backmatter explains that the story has been fictionalized, but provides ample factual information for more exploration of a little-known folk hero.
The cowboy’s vernacular was vivid and note-worthy. Explore the essence of words and phrases that originated with the cattle drives. Which words sound comical? Which are still in use? Use the lyrical language to create an original song or poem.
Books that explore cowboy music and lingo:
Axelrod, Alan. SONGS OF THE WILD WEST. ISBN 9780671747756
Lightfoot, D.J. TRAIL FEVER: THE LIVE OF A TEXAS COWBOY. ISBN 9780972876803
Ode, Eric. TALL TALES OF THE WILD WEST (AND A FEW SHORT ONES): A HUMOROUS COLLECTION OF COWBOY POEMS AND SONGS. ISBN 9781416936770
By Rebecca S. McKee