Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman, painted by Betsy Lewin, 44pp RL 1

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa is a series of beginning reader books that any horse loving girl is sure to devour. These truly are first grade reading level books - there are no contractions and key words are repeated frequently. If you can teach your reader to sight-read "cowgirl" "Kate," and "cocoa," she'll be set. There aren't too many other long, odd words in the books. There are four chapters in each book, with each chapter telling a different story. These books are similar to the Poppleton in that they divided into chapter/stories and the words are fairly simple.

In the first book we meet Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, a horse who talks, and learn how he was named. Cocoa is the color of chocolate with a mane the color of caramel, Cowgirl Kate's two favorite candies. We also learn that Cocoa loves to eat. But, as much as he loves to eat, he cannot wait for surprises. When Kate brings him his breakfast, a bucket of oats, and a surprise in a box, he kicks over the bucket of oats, rips open the package and takes a bite out of his surprise. It does not taste too good, and it doesn't look to good on Cocoa either, since he bit a hole in the front of it. Kate tells Cocoa, "Next time you should eat your breakfast and not your surprise." Kate plays Frog to Cocoa's Toad. She talks Cocoa through his loneliness and jealousy when Kate goes off to school in the fall and brings home a new friend. She convinces Cocoa that horseshoes are better than cowboy boots when he won't let the ferrier near him. And, it is Kate who convinces Cocoa, the cowhorse, to help her find Molly's calf before they play hide-and-seek.

These books are a step above most beginning readers in the quality of the writing and uniqueness of the stories and are worth seeking out for any readers who love cowgirls and/or horses.

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