WHEN BEING SECOND BEST MAKES YOU A WINNER

Every Cowgirl Loves A Rodeo by Rebecca Janni and illustrated by Lynne Avril ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers, ages 3-5) is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

I reckon everybody loves a county fair especially if you’re wild about winning a blue-ribbon like cowgirl Nellie Sue. Making her third picture book appearance, Nellie’s aimin’ to have herself a rip roarin’ time by entering Beauty, her ‘two-wheeled’ horse into the Bike Rodeo. And while Nellie Sue and her friends Anna and A.J. may pretend their bicycles are horses, a bike competition can be just as challenging.

Whether you’re a first time participant or a champion rider like A.J., it pays to have practiced beforehand. The three friends partake in all the festivities a county fair can offer including a pie-eating contest, a ring toss, a giant slide and feeding animals. When the time arrives to start the race, Nellie saddles up on Beauty and gives the ride of a lifetime. Certain to clinch first place Nellie Sue waits in the wings while watching A.J. take his turn. Soon a prize goat breaks free from his pen threatening to wreck havoc as he makes tracks for A.J.’s bike. Rather than watch her friend fall or fail because of one rogue goat, Nellie Sue runs after the creature to reign him in. In an unexpected turn of events, A.J. manages to finish the race and clinch first place leaving Nellie Sue to take second with a red ribbon. Always the good sportsman, Nellie Sue doesn’t despair as she’s all about keeping it ‘fair at the fair.’ This colorful, fast-paced children’s book conveys a meaningful message about honesty and caring being the biggest prizes of the day.

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