Western Wednesday Book Review – Maddie McDowell and the Rodeo Robbery by LuAnn M. Rod

Maddie McDowell and the Rodeo Robbery by LuAnn M. Rod

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was an unexpected delight.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I agreed to read a review copy of this small press middle grade title through BookSirens.

What I got was an entertaining 250-page-or-so mystery-adventure story about a twelve year old girl, feeling abandoned by her family and oppressed by formal education, as she goes on the run. She accidentally-on-purpose impersonates a missing rodeo star, gets on the trail of those who stole from an orphan’s fund, (view spoiler)[earns her own place with a travelling rodeo show, and makes friends and makes peace with her family, (hide spoiler)] although her efforts are regularly opposed by a troublesome dog that seems to be following her around as well as by the thieves. There is some peril, as our heroine engages in dangerous riding and is even (view spoiler)[ shot at by the bad guys. (hide spoiler)].Our young heroine acts throughout with no-nonsense determination and quite a lot of good-heartedness and good humour.

It did take me a few minutes to get into the book’s groove – and I’m not sure but there may be a few minor inconsistencies and some style hiccups now and then – and it felt perhaps just a tad too long – there’s me and my craving for quick endings again – but the sense of fun struck almost immediately and stayed throughout. There are some learning opportunities too – for example, you will learn that a trick rope for rope tricks is different from a regular rope for roping, along with other details about historic rodeo. (This book is set in Montana in 1919.)

A relatively small quibble I had was that I wondered why the only First Nations mentioned were Salish.

There are some fun sayings sprinkled through the text. Here is an example excerpt of the type of thing I mean: “My job was to wheedle information on Liz out of Slim. He hadn’t recognized me yet and I might not have another chance. Do it, I thought. Just bite the hot pepper and get it over with.” and, “The cowboys hung their spurs at the cook tent this time of day while getting some lunch. If they were like any other cowboys I’d known, they spread gossip like butter on bread.”

While not perfect, this was an enjoyable, fast read, which reminded me of Enid Blyton’s children’s adventure stories and other similar stories which are primarily concerned with providing children escapism and adventure. I expect that I would have become a fan of Maddie McDowell when I was eight or nine, and even as a grown woman I hope that there will be more stories with this heroine and her friends.

I do need to note, however, that I am not a middle-grade child, and I don’t know how a child today would react or relate to this book.

Also Note: The publisher, Chicken Scratch Books, offers an online “novel study course” to go alongside this book.



View all my reviews

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