Groundwood Books, 2019
Hardcover Picture Book, 44 pp.
Three things drew me to Nancy Vo’s The Ranger. That cover. It’s the rare Western-genre picture book that looks both serious and not non-fiction. The Ranger is a girl, Annie. It involves a fox. Additionally, both Annie and the Fox have stunning portraits.
The landscape is a harsh one and you wonder why Annie is wandering it alone, not that she doesn’t prove capable, of course… And just because she is a girl doesn’t mean she goes soft and nurturing on the injured fox. She has the no-nonsense dialog familiar to the Western.
But the new companion does prove to be a valuable one. The arrival of the bear is as sudden and unexpected for the reader as it is for Annie. I mean, I forgot that was a plot point, I was so taken with the rhythm of the story and it’s spacious compositions.
Vo doesn’t insult the reader with hand-holding. You’ll absorb the details of the images (like the shadow casts). Vo doesn’t move to over explain why the fox snarled, why the fox was offended. A way of life is established and affirmed, and it wasn’t lonely as it is assumed at the beginning.
I’m going to hunt down a copy of Outlaw, (which is the first book in this Crow trilogy). I’m intrigued by Vo and her inspirations. The tale she tells here is one to own and share; a rarity and a delight.
all images belong to Nancy Vo.
the book trailer.