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the ranger

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The Ranger by Nancy Vo

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.

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interior pages from The Ranger by Nancy Vo
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interior pages from The Ranger by Nancy Vo

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.

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interior illustration from The Ranger by Nancy Vo

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.

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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.

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all images belong to Nancy Vo.

the book trailer.

One thought on “the ranger

  1. Hello Leslie, Thank you for this review. Great blog. I’m scrolling through your film reviews and see that you have True Grit, Coen Brothers version. Mattie Ross was an inspiration for Annie’s character. The Outlaw was inspired by Eli’s character in The Sisters Brothers by Patrick De Witt, recently turned into a film starring John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix. Worth watching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OwvqKwTKmE

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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