BUBBA THE COWBOY PRINCE, A Fractured Texas Tale, is a wonderfully unusual adaptation of the timeless folktale,
Cinderella. The roles are reversed in that Bubba lives with his wicked stepbrothers and his evil stepfather. The stepbrothers
are lazy and bossy while Bubba responds to their every whim. Miz Lurleen, a wealthy neighboring rancher, declares, “I
aim to find myself a feller;” so she throws herself a ball. By the time Bubba helps his “steps” get ready
to go, he’s exhausted and smelly. As he heads for the pasture, his fairy godcow appears and provides him with “the
handsomest cowboy duds he’d ever laid eyes on” and turns a steer into a beautiful white stallion. Upon arriving
at the ball, Miz Lurleen declares Bubba “as cute as a cow’s ear” and he wins her heart. Of course, when
the clock strikes , he turns into a dirty cowpoke again. He loses a cowboy
boot in his flight, which makes it easy for Miz Lurleen to find Bubba the next day. As in any decent western, they ride off
into the sunset; and “they lived happily ever after, roping, and cowpoking, and gitting them doggies along.”
Even with its few changes,
the plot remains the same. This Cinderella (or, rather, “Cinderfeller” story) is as delightful as the traditional
version. Since it’s familiar, the plot is very predictable; children will enjoy that Bubba, the quintessential “good
guy,” comes out on top, while the stepbrothers and “their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.” The Texas
dialect used by Ketterman simply must be read aloud, and with a decided twang.
The illustrations, painted
by James Warhola, are oil on canvas and include many details which enhance the story. Warhola artfully captures many Texas
characteristics in each scene, from the cactus in the dirt to Miz Lurleen’s horseshoe-shaped fireplace and Alamo-backed
bench. The characters, both human and animal (as well as the fairy godcow), have features bigger than life; Warhola is a master
at giving them the appropriate comical expressions. Whenever the stepbrothers are present, their dog is there too, looking
as mean as they are. Similarly, Bubba’s dog is ever-present, sharing both his moods and his chores.
Children will enjoy reading
this tale and comparing it to the original Cinderella. Even for those too young to read, the large, colorful illustrations
tell the familiar story just as well.
Helen. 1997. BUBBA THE COWBOY PRINCE: A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE. Illustrated by James Warhola. New
York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 0590255061.