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MY BOOKS: Tyrannosaurus Tex
Tyrannosaurus Tex

Illustrated by John O'Brien
Illustrations © 1994 by John O'Brien.

When rustlers set a prairie fire in order to steal Double U's cattle, Tyrannosaurus Tex uses his ten-thousand gallon hat to help out young Pete, Cookie and the cowboys.

"A tumbleweed-tumbling, rip-roaring good tale."
School Library Journal

"The snappiest campfire legend around." Smithsonian

Tyrannosaurus Tex FUN FACTS:
StarI got the idea for the book when I mistakenly typed "Tyrannosaurus Tex" instead of "Tyrannosaurus Rex." I immediately pictured a dinosaur in a ten-thousand gallon hat. The moral: not all mistakes are bad!

StarDinosaurs (except for Tex) became extinct around 65 million years ago. Humans didn't appear on earth until much later - perhaps 200,000 years ago. So humans and dinosaurs did not live together ... except in tall tales!

Star Although I never met illustrator John O'Brien, I was a big fan of his cartoons in the New Yorker magazine for years before Houghton Mifflin asked him to illustrate this book. A sublime choice.

Star When cattle needed to be moved to market (often long distances), it was called a CATTLE DRIVE. It took a lot of men to drive those cattle and a lot of food to feed those men.

Star The CHUCKWAGON was a portable kitchen on wheels used in U.S. cattle drives. The wagon served as worktable for the cook, and was outfitted with shelves and drawers for food and cooking utensils.

Star "CHUCK" was food to cowboys. The box holding the food was the "CHUCK BOX" and the wagon was the "CHUCK WAGON." When dinner was ready, the cook would announce, "Chuck away, boys!"

The CHUCK WAGON was invented by Charles Goodnight around 1886.

"Birney skillfully lavishes her fast-moving tale with alliterative cowboy jargon ('...too old to beat a biscuit...too young to bend a bean'), making oral group reading a delight. A tumbleweed-tumbling, rip-roaring good tale."
  School Library Journal

"Tall tales and dinosaurs make great partners, especially when the setting is the Wild West. Tyrannosaurus Tex is a cowboy, and like everything else in Texas, he's big. At first the other cowboys skedaddle away from him, but once his powerful hunger is satisfied (he swallows the beans, pot and all), he settles down at the campfire and spins a good yarn. When low-down rustlers set fire to the dry prairie grass, Tex's ten-thousand-gallon hat finds a literal use, and the rustlers and their horses have to swim all the way back to El Paso. The story's combination of exaggeration and deadpan humor is extended in the watercolor and ink line illustrations. The cross-hatching details the trembling of the tumbleweed and the wild stampede of the cattle. Everything is larger than life, yet, at the same time, as close and cozy as a campfire circle. Great for reading aloud with the appropriate drawl."

"Dinosaurs are everywhere, so why not in the Old West? This modern tall tale, which has all the elements of a Pecos Bill story, stars Tyrannosaurus Tex, a Texas-sized lizard halfway as high as Butterfly Butte and wearing a ten-thousand gallon hat. Tex is as good a friend as any cowpuncher could hope for, spins a great yarn, dispatches rustlers with ease - and, as for other good qualities, Pa observes, "I don't think we have to worry about coyotes." The illustrations, effectively rendered in the browns and buffs of canyon country, express the humor of the tale."
  Horn Book Magazine

"Out of the lone prairie, a cowboy dino, tipping his "ten-thousand-gallon-hat," vanquishes varmints and helps the good guys corral their cattle. This has got to be the snappiest campfire legend around."
  Smithsonian Magazine