Cover image for A cowboy named Ernestine
A cowboy named Ernestine
Rubel, Nicole.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 21 x 26 cm
Ernestine O'Reilly comes from Ireland to Texas as a mail-order bride, but when she meets the man she is supposed to marry, she ends up deciding to be a cowboy instead.
Reading Level:
AD 640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.3 0.5 46131.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 24722 Guided reading level: M.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Hoping to earn enough money for a ticket home to Ireland, Ernestine dons britches and boots and a broad-rimmed hat and joins Texas Teeth and his cowhands on a cattle drive to Abilene. She finds she's good at lassoing calves, but is this skill enough for her to win first prize at the Abilene Rodeo? Full-color illustrations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. Brought from Ireland to Lizard Lick, Texas, mail-order bride Ernestine realizes her intended is an inconsiderate boor. Having "seen neater pigs and more courteous donkeys," she disguises herself as a man, sneaks out, and becomes a cattle herder to earn money for a ticket home. Along the way, she discovers she has a talent for lassoing and telling tall tales around the campfire. She even participates in a rodeo competition. Ernestine may not get top honors, but she unexpectedly finds true love and a happy-ever-after home on the range. The delightful western tale features a folksy, droll narrative; plenty of action; and an admirably resourceful heroine. Rubel's distinct, signature ink-and-marker art has whimsy and charm, colorfully detailed landscapes, expressive characters, and a seek-and-find armadillo hidden on every page. A bonus is Ernestine's own tall tale, "Turtle Soup," which is incorporated into the narrative. There's lots of fun in both story and art. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Ernestine O'Reilly, with hair as wild and red as campfire flames, came all the way from County Clare, Ireland, to Lizard Lick, Texas, as a mail-order bride." Dressed in a fine turquoise dress and ogled by scruffy buckaroos, Ernestine primly disembarks from a stagecoach. Her wide-eyed optimism fades when her fianc turns out to be a tobacco-spitting mountain man with a beard full of twigs, and her disappointment is complete when he orders her to cook and clean for his whole family. Ernestine quickly trades her ruffles for a Stetson and boots, and escapes into the desert. Disguised, she takes the name "Ernest T.," joins a group of cattle herders and, in a romantic rodeo finale, meets a worthy male pardner at last. Rubel (Batty Riddles) follows a common mistaken-identity plot and closes with a fairy-tale wedding: "Both bride and groom cleaned up right nice." She chooses an Irish heroine, drawing attention to immigration (and the state of feminism) in the Old West. Using black ink and colored markers, she creates a vibrant landscape with clapboard saloons, cactus and critters galore; as befits the Texan setting, an armadillo hides in every picture. Fans of Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane will root for independent-minded Ernestine in this humdinger of a campfire story. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Ernestine O'Reilly, a mail-order bride from Ireland, arrives in Texas to find her future husband, Virgil Beetle. He turns out to be dirty and rude, and the rest of his family members are no better. Ernestine sneaks away and, with her hair tucked under a Stetson, becomes known as Ernest T. O'Reilly. She joins a friendly bunch of cowboys and heads for Abilene. When her hat falls off during a rodeo, her true gender is revealed, paving the way for a happy marriage to her cowboy pal, Texas Teeth. Rubel's words and pictures work together to bring this Wild West romp to life. The bold ink-and-marker drawings capture the humor perfectly. The Beetle family is delightfully unpleasant, from their messy house to the wall filled with trophy heads. The illustrations brim with expressive figures and funny details. Sharp eyes will enjoy spotting the armadillo that appears in each scene and, like Ernestine, winds up with a mate at the end. The colorful language adds to the atmosphere without being overdone. Ernestine's entertaining adventures make a good addition to the cowpoke picture-book genre alongside such titles as Steve Sanfield's The Great Turtle Drive (Knopf, 1996) and Eric Kimmel's Grizz! (Holiday, 2000).-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.