“Any Southwestern cowboy with a bandana big enough to keep the sweat out of his eyes, in the course of a day’s work through arroyo and bog out yonder, could expect to see at least an occasional armadillo, javelina, horned toad, roadrunner or dogie cross his path. The dogie—if you don't know—is the main critter deserving a cowboy’s attention.”
Anyone who has lived in the Southwest or grown up on dime-store Westerns, John Ford or roadrunner cartoons will probably understand the gist of that paragraph. So too will those who are comfortable with a well-worn saddle and knotted reins or who have tussled with dogies and teethed on alphabet blocks that spelled of their own accord: bronc and quirt and waddy.
But if the words sound like some foreign lingo, you’re in sore need of a copy of James Rice’s Cowboy Alphabet.
Delightfully written and illustrated, Cowboy Alphabet supplies a wealth of information for would-be cowpokes, young and old alike. From A’s armadillo (a harmless throwback that wears a coat of armor and next to impossible for a kid to pull out of a hole by the tail) to Y’s yonder (a far piece down the road but not so far that you can't see to point it out), this unusual primer initiates the reader into rodeo lore, desert fauna, cowboy dress, and a Z-is-for-zillion other aspects of cowboy life.