Young cowboy stands tall against the sounds and shadows of the backyard at night.

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Children’s Literature Finalist:

A Night on the Range
Aaron Frisch, illustrated by Chris Sheban
The Creative Company
Category Sponsor: Books For Africa:


An excerpt from A Night on the Range:

One day, after watching a ball of weeds tumble along the street, Cole decided the moment had come.  He sauntered over to his father, who was working on the car. Cole tipped back his hat. “I’m fixin’ to become a real cowboy,” he said.


Aaron Frisch is the author of more than 90 nonfiction books for children and young adults.


“This is an entertaining-enough tongue-in-cheek story that is suitable for sharing. The illustrations have a retro look and are somewhat muted and understated. Created with watercolor and pencil, they are appropriately scary during Cole’s experiences outside and satisfying when he’s safely back in his own home.” – Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA.

“The illustrations for Night on the Range are beautiful, and I really like the way the prose is presented.  At first a lot of text, but in a good way, then when the little boy is scared only one sentence per page.  Then, when he feels safe, a lot of text.” – Minnesota Book Awards Preliminary Judge

“The subtle humor throughout should have an appeal beyond just cowboy fans. Early pages show our hero at his imaginary play. But richer visuals appear when he camps out and imagines the dangers in the shadows. Sheban produces textured surfaces to help create somewhat dreamy but naturalistic scenes and sculpturesque characters with strong emotional content.” – Children’s Literature Review

More illustrations from Chris Sheban’s website:

“Young Cole, attired in cowboy boots and hat, is aimin’ to be a cowpoke. With a vivid imagination, he envisions his dog, Bull’s-Eye, as his faithful mount; neighbors as mean rustlers; and their dogs as dangerous wolves. Cowboy Cole likes to relax after a hard day in front of the TV, watching Westerns borrowed from the library.” – School Library Journal


“Sheban’s signature pebbly surfaces diffuse light to give even the goofiest or most prosaic images an ethereal quality that testifies to the transportive power of imagination…


“…and his mise-en-scene is worthy of Sergio Leone, whether it’s a closeup of Cole brushing his teeth with a beef jerky stick or a stunning worm’s eye view of Cole and Bull’s Eye losing themselves in the wonders of twilight.” – Publisher’s Weekly




Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read A Night on the Range? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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