The Book Reviews – Website

February 20, 2008

Bull Rider

Bull Rider

Author: Marilyn Halvorson

Page Length: 92

Reading Level: 3rd

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Suspense

 

REVIEW, PLOT SUMMARY & AREAS FOR TEACHING: When you tell people you live in Fort Worth, they immediately think of cowboys, cattle, and horses. And the beginning of each year brings us the main event of this city’s tradition: The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. As I have never been to a rodeo and my closest encounter with cattle has been the local 4-H fair, I began this book with little background information.   

 

Bull Rider is an entertaining story about a 17 year old boy named Layne who has been without a father for six years. His father was killed by a bull at a championship rodeo – “trampled so bad he never woke up”. One of the main reasons for the accidental death, was that Layne’s father used a “suicide wrap” to hold onto his bull. Despite this tragic event, Layne has a passion for riding bulls and would like to enter a rodeo himself. Layne wants to show that even though his father was unable to win a championship, he son can. However, Layne’s mother refuses to allow her son to enter the competition.

 

With the help of his friend Jana Kelvin, Layne is able to practice bull-riding on her land. Out of several animals on Jana’s land, Layne quickly recognizes the one with the greatest challenge: a full grown Brahma named Rhino. On Layne’s first ride with Rhino, he was thrown off and near death until his sister rescued him by waving her jacket in front of the bull.

 

Watching the near-death event was Chase Kincaid, Jana’s grandfather. Chase befriends Layne and allows him to practice bull-riding with him without the knowledge of Layne’s mother. On page 49, we can infer that Chase says the only thing that’s worse than being so old nobody thinks you can do anything, is being so young that no one thinks you can do anything. This is a strong internal motivator for Chase in helping Layne with his dreams.

 

Layne tries to use a “suicide wrap” for his rides with Chase, but Chase reminds him that even though this type of hold may give a rider extra grip, it is dangerous. July 3rd is the big day for Layne’s bull-riding competition. It is also the same day that his mother will be out of town. This allows Layne easy access to attend the competition without her permission.

 

Page 87 gives us a hint of a flashback to how Layne’s father died. We find a bull-rider at the July 3rd competition using the same “suicide wrap” and unable to let go as the bull goes wild. This event startles Layne and it almost looks as if he is not going to be able to ride. Layne does manage to enter the arena with Rhino, however during his ride, Layne’s mother shows up and looks worried. This causes Layne to lose concentration and grip. He falls off, but is safe. The book wraps up quickly with all parties smiling, hugging, and celebrating on a safe competition ride. Layne’s mother realizes that bull-riding is her son’s passion despite the dangers that come with it

 

This book would be great to use in introducing terms associated with a sport many kids may be unfamiliar with. Just as there are many cultures of ethnicity, there are many cultures when it comes to various sports that are out there.

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://orca.powerwebbook.com/client/PDFs/TeachersGuides/Orca%20Soundings/BullRiderGuide.pdf

 

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/swyar/browseEntry.asp?id=22815&grade=9&booktitle=Bull+Rider 

 

http://www.fwstockshowrodeo.com/ (Fort Worth Stock Show/Rodeo Site)

 

http://www.pbrnow.com/about/sportinfo/basics.cfm

 

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

 

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1 Comment »

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