Our special guest on the blog this week is the wonderful Caroline Lawrence, author of the Roman Mystery series and her new Western Mystery series. The first book in the series, The Case of the Deadly Desperados is out now and you can reserve your copy in the library now or enter our competition to win a copy. Read on to find out about Caroline’s top 5 gritty Western books for kids.
Everybody has their own definition of a “western”. Here’s my definition:
- A Western doesn’t have to have cowboys or Indians, but it should have horses (or mules).
- It should be set in the American west in the second half of the 19th century.
- It should have six-shooters and also smoking, gambling and drinking.
- It should have a hero who fights against overwhelming odds.
- It should have some harsh but beautiful landscapes and big skies.
There can be exceptions, like a Western set in Australia in the 1900s or one without any drinking or gambling, but most will fulfil those qualifications.
Because Westerns are about survival in extreme situations in a frontier world, they are usually too violent and politically incorrect for children. The ones that ARE aimed at children are often too watered-down for my liking. I crave gritty reality. So here are five of my favourite Western books which are suitable kids but which also have A BIT OF GRIT. I’ve placed them in order of ascending grittiness and given them ratings (like in the movies.)
- The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman (U)
- Hondo by Louis L’Amour (PG)
- True Grit by Charles Portis (PG)
- Boone’s Lick by Larry McMurtry (PG)
- St. Agnes Stand by Thomas Eidson (15)
For fuller descriptions of these five books, visit my blog: tomboycowgirl.blogspot.com
And don’t forget my new book, The Case of the Deadly Desperados (PG) which probably falls somewhere between True Grit and Boone’s Lick on the True Grittiness scale. Yee-haw!