I teach 3-5 year-olds and we all love this book. A little girl is on her way to compete in a rodeo. She takes a short-cut through a dry gulch and, along the way, meets rattlesnakes who threaten to "swaller her up." She offers articles of her rodeo costume to placate them until she has none left to give. Each snake accepts and dons the clothing and thinks it looks handsome, smart, etc. The snakes eventually meet up and get into a dispute over who looks the best and in the process, Little Britches gets her clothes back. She makes it to the rodeo, and wins first prize in the calf-roping contest.
This book is very fun to read aloud imitating a Texas drawl, and you can make all the rattlers sound sinister as they hisssssss their Sssssssss. The illustrations are hilarious. The rattlers look very goofy in Little Britches' rodeo clothes as the reader is asked, "Didn't he look smart?" We love the snake in the vest with no arms and the snake with gloves perched on top of its head.
Little Britches is a parody of an old 1899 classic by Helen Bannerman, "The Story of Little Black Sambo," lately retitled "The Story of Little Babaji." In that story, a little boy named Little Black Sambo/Little Babaji puts on his fine new clothes and goes for a walk in the jungle. He meets tigers who threaten to "eat him up." He convinces them not to eat him in exchange for various articles of clothing, until he has none left to give. The tigers eventually come together and get into a huge dispute about who looks the grandest, and in the process the boy gets his clothes back and some very special pancakes.
We read the two books as a pair. Even preschoolers are old enough to grasp the concept of a parody and they appreciate the humor.
Little Britches saddles her pony and heads out for the rodeo. She hopes to win first prize in the calf-roping contest. Along the way, she meets seven cunning rattlesnakes. One by one, they threaten to eat her up! But Little Britches is smart. She knows how to bargain with those rattlesnakes and come out on top! Endearing graphite, watercolor, and digital illustrations by Vincent Nguyen bring this southwestern romp to an outlandish finish.