Candy Moulton: Reading the West 11-21-11 |

Candy Moulton: Reading the West 11-21-11

The children in your lives will like the stories of “The Mutt and the Mustang” and “The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena and Roo.” These two titles show how animals forge bonds with each other.

Judy Archibald in “The Mutt and the Mustang” draws from the true story of Kody, a dog who lives in Western Colorado, and finds himself too small to do tasks that can be undertaken by the much larger German Shepherd, Cheyenne. There are lots of critters

in this story, including goats, chickens, a cat named Cloud, and two horses, Rio and Raven, who were rescued by the mother of Lilly, the young girl in the story.

When Lilly does chores, Cheyenne helps her, which prompts Lilly to tell the big German shepherd he is a special dog. Sometimes Cheyenne holds Kody’s leash so the little mutt won’t get stepped on by the horses, again prompting Lilly to tell Cheyenne he is a special dog.

Little Kody wants to help with the chores and wants to be a special dog, too. But when he tries to herd the goats into the barn, the nanny just chases him away. He spills the chicken feed, and then runs to hide under the porch. Cheyenne and Rio are friends, and Kody wants to have a horse friend, too.

One day he climbs on Rio’s back and begins pulling knots out of the horse’s mane by using his teeth. Soon the two become inseparable. Rio, who often bucked when something as small as a magpie got on his back, even lets Kody ride his back around the corral.

There is a message in this book: that something old has value and something small can be special.

Western Wyoming sheep rancher Cat Urbigkit tells another story of animal companions in “The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena and Roo.” Featuring photographs taken over the course of a year, this book shares the bond of a wild burro named Roo and a dog named Rena. The two have important jobs to do. They must grow up to become guardians of the sheep on the ranch where they live.

As these two guardian animals grow up they learn how to guard the orphan lambs keeping them safe from dangers and predators. Once the orphans were old enough, they joined the larger range sheep herd and Roo went with them as one of the guard animals. Rena, meantime, would have other young lambs to protect.

This book not only shares the important role of guardian animals, but does it through the use of beautiful photography that engagingly captures the story of these two animals: Rena and Roo, plus the lambs/sheep they guard.

Either of these books are recommended to share with children.

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