Sunday, October 10, 2010

Activities & Ideas: The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea by Tony Johnston

Many, many years ago when I was a camp counselor, I had an especially benevolent boss.  Since I was not a resident of the area, he applied for a library card for himself and then gave it to me to use.  As a result, I checked out dozens of books so that each night I could read to my campers.  I checked The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea (ages 4 and up) over and over.  Finally, I bought it, so I could read it each week.   Almost 20 years later, it is still in my personal library! 

I immensely enjoy this creative retelling of The Princess and the Pea.  It allowed me to practice my Texan accent, which I am certain a Texan would not recognize as such.  Since no one else was from Texas, it was my secret!  (I was in New Jersey; they probably thought I had an accent to start with!) Also, I love the colorful language that describes everything from the setting to the characters.  The first lines of the book are: “Out where the coyotes serenade the moon and sagebrush grays the land, there lived a woman of bodacious beauty. Her name was Farethee Well.”   Isn’t that amusing language!?   It also includes some entertaining similes and alliterations.  Next, I love stories with strong, capable women.  In this version, the cowboy has to prove himself to be both manly and sensitive to Farethee Well.   She weeds out the posers.   Finally, of course, there is a happy ending with Farethee Well finding her cowboy.  Together they ride out into the sunset side by side.  It brings a tear to my eye J.
Extension Activities: 
·         Of course, this story begs a comparison to the traditional The Princess and the Pea.   Use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the stories. 
·         Discuss which parts of the story are based on reality and which are fantasy.
·         As a class, a family, a small group, or individually create another version of this popular fairy tale.
·         Add The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea to a fairy tale unit study.  
·         It would be a fun one to act out with actors or finger puppets.  I love talking in Farethee Well’s voice J!  
·         Create a poster to advertise the story.
·         Design a Wanted poster for Farethee Well.  If she were to advertise that she was in search of a “real” cowboy, what do you think she would look for?  Include those characteristics. 
·         Other connections are cowboys, Texas, ranches, and horses.  I found some good sites with loads of ideas to go along with these subjects.   

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