Drywater Gulch is beset by black-hearted varmints who not only steal the gold, but kiss the cattle and insult the chili. Fortunately, there’s a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately, he can’t shoot, rope, or stay up past eight. Because he’s a kid. A kid who rides a tortoise. Very slowly. He is, however, a kid with a plan, and he immediately sets about confusing outlaws and townsfolk alike by explaining his theory that much of the local crime spree has been perpetrated by dinosaurs—a T. rex broke into the bank; a Velociraptor robbed a stage coach, mistaking it for a Protoceratops; a Stegosaurus panned the meaty chili. The real criminals, the Toad Brothers, are so incensed that credit for their bad deeds is being misplaced that they confess to everything. Still, the sheriff taunts them with the suggestion the dino-sized jail is too big for them, and to prove their fitness for incarceration, the Toads step right inside. The day is saved. The townsfolk rejoice. The sheriff rides out of town. Very slowly. Shea’s broad parody of matinee Westerns is a read aloud delight: disputing the pinning of the crime on a Triceratops, a Toad protests, “And weren’t no try-lollipops kissin’ them cattle neither. Why I smooched them beefy lips my own self!” In Smith’s mixed-media illustrations, plug-ugly varmints and the diminutive sheriff are rendered with risible delicacy—almost daintiness—and softly stippled textures in trendy coffee house hues bring upscale gentility to the seedy Wild West. This is, without question, the best dinosaur book with no dino-saurs in it. Ever.                                                                                                                   BCCB


A young sheriff comes riding high—atop a tortoise—toward the troubled, "cumin-scented" town of Drywater Gulch. Just give him a minute. How to get the Toads—not the four-legged kind, but three lawless brothers saddled with a silly name and a yen to "steal your gold, kiss your cattle, and insult your chili"—into the hoosegow? Avowed dino-expert Ryan knows just the ploy: blame the big hole blasted into the bank on T. Rex and the stagecoach robbery on Velociraptors. The cattle-kissin'? Why, Triceratops, of course. Annoyed to no end at not getting proper credit for their crimes ("Why I smooched them beefy lips my own self!"), the Toads rudely occupy the clink: "HA! You can blow them dinersores out your nose Sheriff, this here jail is full up of real bonafide criminals!" "Hooray!" cheer the townsfolk. Sheriff Ryan just saddles up his reptilian steed and rides off into the sunset…over the next three days. The hulking Toads cut properly brutish figures in Smith's angular, sand-and-brown Wild West scenes, while their pint-sized nemesis sports the requisite white chaps and a huge white hat. A crowd-pleasin' knee-slapper that'll have 'em rolling in the aisles, yessirree.                                                                                                                   Kirkus


The gold stealin’ and cattle kissin’ Toad Brothers are terrorizing the town of Drywater Gulch again! So when seven-year-old Ryan rides into town on a tortoise and offers to help, the mayor immediately gives him the task of wrangling up the Toads. The new sheriff may not know anything about riding horses or lassoing crooks, but like most boys, he does know an awful lot about dinosaurs. As Ryan investigates the crime scenes, he blatantly blames dinosaurs for the crime in the town and sets out to nab the terrifying lizards. Although Sheriff Ryan is pretty ridiculous in his accusations, children will love the ending, since the little hero gets the last laugh. Shea’s humor is spot-on in Sherriff Ryan’s unwavering logic and assumptions, and his distinct characters will make this an instant hit at storytime. Smith’s illustrations, with grainy color and vivid textures, match the deadpan silliness to a tee, and keen dinosaur hunters will love the few dinosaur mirages hidden in the background. Another stellar job by Shea and Smith.                                                                                              School Library Journal

Read about the making of Kid Sheriff on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.


© 2016 Lane Smith

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