Except for The Story of Ferdinand written back in 1936, there are not too many children’s books that feature a bucking bull as a lead character. So Debbie Felkins Tamez’ first book should appeal to a lot children and young adults who are either captivated by or aspire to a life associated with cowboys and bull riding. The idea of dreaming about joining the rodeo for a kid has a magical feel to it. Tamez wanted to capture that elusive childhood fantasy in her tale — but from a different perspective.
When pulling the gate means you're looking for “8”
In place of a cowboy’s dream, Tamez anthropomorphizes a bull and weaves an entertaining fable around his aspirations to become the best bucking bull he could possibly be. While the book has a long title, namely: Flying Cowboys and Confetti Rain: Dreams of a PBR Bull, it works well in triggering the reader’s curiosity as to what does “flying cowboys," “confetti rain” and the “PBR” have in common?
For starters, cowboys “fly” when they are tossed from a bull, hopefully in a time-frame that takes more than 8 seconds. Then that 8-second ride receives a ‘confetti rainstorm’ to celebrate the bull rider's accomplishment.
The acronym “PBR” stands for the prestigious Professional Bull Riders association established in 1922, which is made up the best bull riding athletes and the toughest animal athletes [the bucking bulls] on the planet.
From his meager beginnings, born on a small ranch in Rush Springs,OK, our protagonist is introduced to us with the unassuming name ‘Walter.’ This is a coming of age story all told through eyes of this young bull, and his dream to make something out of his life.
After learning of his father’s earlier rodeo exploits, the story takes the reader on Walter's quest. From the Spring Roundup, to his very first Rodeo, to Boot Camp and his acceptance into the PBR — his journey is filled with anecdotes about famous bull riders and bulls of the day.
Along the way, we see Walter slowing maturing and transitioning into “Rocket Man” for his ability to buck straight up into the air. At full maturity, his name is changed once again, when he is given the moniker “Scene of the Crash” [“Crash” for short] at the time he receives membership into the PBR to vie for the ultimate title of "Bucking Bull of the Year!"
Author, also a Bull Rider
Tamez writes from experience. She started bull riding as young girl. “When I started riding bulls I competed in the GRA (Girl’s Rodeo Association) around the state. The number of bull riders was usually between 8 and 15 depending on where the rodeo was. The GRA became the WPRA in 1981,” says Tamez.
“Women just don’t want to ride bareback broncs or bulls anymore. Woman now days are more into roping and running barrels. Women are either getting smarter or softer, or maybe a little bit of both,” adds Tamez.
Set in Reality
While the story is fictional, all the bull riders and bulls are real, including Crash. “ Other than my animals talking, almost everything is true. 'Trouble' [Walter's closed friend as an adolescent bull] was a raccoon I raised on a bottle and was a part of my family for many years,” Tamez pointed out.
These are true stories that Tamez was keen to share with her grandson Caden, both on tape and at bedtime readings.
“Caden’s favorite story about Rocket Man was the one about Rocket being terrified of spiders. Even as a two thousand pound grown bull, a teeny tiny spider would cause Rocket to run off screaming like a little girl and hide behind Trouble. Caden still thinks that so funny,” noted Tamez.
No More Bull?
The book is an entertaining jaunt for any child who gravitates toward adventure — and the fun, of course is getting a birds-eye [or a rather, a bulls-eye] view as to how a bucking bull perceives the world. As far as future installments, Tamez is not saying “no” — only that she has “plenty of crazy stories to tell for sure.”
Here’s hoping she’ll be sharing them with her grandson and the world at large, very soon.
Now available here for your Kindles at $3.99 or in paperback for $7.95 . . . and perhaps I'll see you at the Rodeo. I’ll be on the Chute Side catching the action up close and personal. How about you?