illus. by Andy Hirsch. 215p. First Second. Sept. 2016. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781626722798.
Gr 4–6—Opie and her younger brother Ned travel through the Wild West to find the man who shot their mother. They begin to track a notorious criminal known as "Pa" and, along the way, meet an assortment of hardened criminals and sympathetic animals. Opie and Ned make a compelling pair. Opie is a tough survivor, while Ned's bratty behavior can't hide his loving, insightful side. The action doesn't stop: the children escape a train full of gangsters, win a horse race on a donkey, and run a criminal out of a hotel bar. Some of the scenes, easily recognizable as Wild West tropes by older readers, may be less appropriate for younger ones: the narrative opens with gambling and a bar brawl. The colorful cartoon illustrations aren't graphic, but Opie and Ned are threatened with guns multiple times. The siblings are white, and the few Native American and Mexican characters are incidental and often stereotypical. For instance, in the horse race, the children compete against "Joe Twelve Paw" and "Javieeer Ruiz."
VERDICT With plucky protagonists, nonstop adventure, and slapstick humor, this tale has plenty of kid appeal, but its violence and use of stereotypes make it more appropriate for upper elementary readers.

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