Reviews for Stories of the Wild West Gang

Booklist Reviews 2012 October #2
This is an omnibus of short chapter books, originally published individually, that have the nostalgic feel of a minimally adult-supervised childhood. Michael is the only child of an orderly yuppie couple whose life takes a turn for the chaotic when his boisterous cousins, the Wests, move a mere street away. While his parents hide the breakables, Michael embraces the mayhem. Cowley has created a true ensemble of characters: wise-boy Royce, always on the lookout for an easy dollar; Miranda and her enticingly fragrant shampoo; Auntie Rosie, whose affection is measured in Shakespearean-worthy insults; irascible Grandadda West, whose love of whiskey cost him his foot; and Michael himself, the sensible buffer between the reader and the Wests, who discovers a previously untapped talent for telling ghost stories. Disapproving parents will be encouraged to read that prolonged exposure to his cousins makes Michael appreciate the order of his own home. For their part, young readers will enjoy the episodic nature of the stories while relishing the vicarious thrills of a helter-skelter family who favor fun over fastidiousness. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Ten interrelated, longish stories, originally published individually, explore the relationship between only-child Michael's family and his cousins who have moved to town. His mother and Auntie Rosie might be sisters, but they are living totally different lives. There is not a trace of dirt at Michael's house--linen napkins and soft, gentlemanly tones are the order of the day. When the Wests blow into town, Michael learns how other families work. The Wests are in a constant state of hubbub and grime. Money is in short supply, but love is not. Michael is instantly welcomed into this warm house, and he spends many of his waking hours figuring out how to get his parents' permission to become a member of the West gang. He takes it all in: the wheeling and dealing of his cousin Royce and his favorite word ("S-H-I-T-!"), baby Honey's toileting escapades, a rotting dead rabbit, a stinking refrigerator and an amputated foot. Along the way, Michael learns to enjoy his own family, and his parents learn to relax a bit, too. The stories create a tidy arc that allows the reader to observe the changes in both families, but the overall length and repeated format (crazy incident plus humorous climax) might overwhelm the young chapter-book reader who tackles it in one go. Episodic enough to dip in and out, this New Zealand import charms in small bites. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

Gr 4-8--Ten transitional-length chapter books in one weighty volume recount the adventures of the wacky West family as told from the point of view of cousin Michael. An only child with seriously overprotective parents, he is thrilled when his aunt, uncle, five boisterous cousins, and pets of all shapes and sizes move close by. His own household is quiet, refined, and more than a little restrictive. Much to his parents' dismay, he attempts to visit the West gang as often as possible. They welcome him with open arms into their loud and loving, messy and slightly wild lives. Young readers (and boys in particular) will enjoy their repeated exploits involving everything from potty humor and worm farms to barfing carloads of kids and creepy campfire tales. Set in New Zealand, but loaded with universal appeal, these zany tales will please fans of goofy family stories. Pye's lively black-and-white pencil illustrations enliven the first page of each new adventure.--Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

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