Sienna, The Cowgirl Fairy: Cowboy Trouble by Alayne Kay Christian with art by Blake Marsee.
Sienna is not your ordinary cowgirl. She is a cowgirl fairy! The juxtaposition is enough to tickle any girl or boy reading these early chapter books and from the title and premise of the story you instantly know it’s going to be a fun read!
The characterization of Sienna is spot on. Not only in the way she dresses and speaks but also the language she uses and her general demeanor. It’s a masterpiece of character writing! Sienna’s character is feisty, strong, forthright and full of fun too.
The story begins when Aunt Rose asks Sienna to be a flower girl at her wedding, and Sienna is determined not to wear a frilly dress and use good manners. Aunt Rose’s request sets off a series of fun and fantastical events, including a stint in Cowgirl Charm School! The problem is set up immediately at the start of the story making it clear to young readers and easy to follow.
Alayne uses great poetic devices throughout her writing making it a great teaching tool for kids in the art of writing too. ‘As excited as a nightingale in spring’ and ‘they are so mean they’d eat from the same dish as a rattlesnake’, are just a couple of examples of the impeccable writing throughout the story.
Alayne sets up a great anti-heroine in the form of cowboy bully, Billy Bob too. He is instantly dislikable and puts the reader firmly on Sienna’s side, routing for her to succeed and prove Billy Bob wrong. Sienna’s determination to be proved as capable as the cowboys creates an empowering and strong female role model for young girls. I I particularly loved the story though when there was a turn around and character reversal and Billy Bob becomes the tutor of Sienna in ladylike manners. It’s fun and a great lesson in humility and graciousness too!
More importantly though Sienna’s real lesson in the story and ultimately the readers, comes when she learns teamwork. By listening to her new friends tips and encouragement Sienna is finally able to master her cowgirl charm lessons. In the end Sienna learns that determination is a transferable skill. If you can use it to win a cowboy competition you can use it to succeed at charm school too. There are more take-aways to be had too. When Sienna develops a friendship with Cassie she hides her fairy wings. It is only when she accepts who she really is and takes pride in her identity does she find true success.
I love the addition of the non-fiction sections about horsemanship and penning. Kids love facts, especially animal facts, and these were great additions to the book. For a non-American or a child without a background knowledge of horses, the glossary at the end was a fab addition too and great teaching tool too.
The book was full of fun illustrations that broke up the chapters perfectly for young readers as well. They are pitched perfectly for the aged 6-8 bracket! Highly recommend!