Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo

Cowboy Up! by the Nancy Bo Flood A book rocking with the sights, smells and sounds of rodeo. A selection of the Junior Library Guild!

Published by Boyds Mills Press under their poetry Wordsong Imprint

Photography by Jan Sonnenmair

Order now through Jan Sonnenmair’s site

“This smooth blend of prose narrative and free verse introduces the rodeo. Clearly written descriptions of sights and sounds common to rodeos large or small, along with vivid evocations of each event’s speed and skill, are all tinged with clouds of dusty drama. In first-person poems, competitors—from young children to veteran bull riders—ruminate as they take their brief turns in the arena. Sonnenmair’s atmospheric color photographs capture both contemplative and climactic moments, focusing mostly on younger performers or spectators. There are also portraits of a pair of decidedly dangerous-looking bulls and a tribute to the courageous rodeo clown. Even knowledgeable young cowpokes will come away understanding more about the rules, history, and appeal of this intergenerational event—and the author also ropes in a generous array of print and web resources for readers to explore.” -Booklist Online


Navajo Rodeo Boy by Jan SonnenmairSchool Library Journal  Review · April 2013

The history and tradition of the Navajo rodeo are made lively and accessible in this “day-in-the-life” account. Short narrative poems accompany each spread, recounting the anticipation, determination, danger, and excitement of the day.
“Big Brahma bull/stands square,/glares./Big Brahma bull/head down/ horns able/to rip a rider wide apart./Big Brahma bull…/My turn to ride.” An announcer guides readers through the book (and each individual event) page by page. “Ladies and Gents, all eyes to the arena for our first timed event. Watch close, or you just might miss the action. These calf ropers are fast as lightning!”

rodeo boots by Jan SonnenmairChildren will easily be roped in, from barrel racing to steer wrestling, team roping to bareback bull riding. Each event is described in concise, informative detail. The colorful photos almost steal the show as they expertly capture the athletes and animals in action.

Warm and inviting, the book gives a real sense of what it’s like to be a part of the Navajo rodeo. A top-notch introduction to a unique event. -Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

Photos by Jan Sonnenmair ©Boyds Mills Press

Order online


  1. sky says

    We just wanted to thank you for “Cowboy Up”! Stephanie Greene had given us a copy and not only did my 6 year old daughter LOVE it, but her teacher had just started a segment on poetry and she adored this book too. They used it in the classroom for several weeks before returning it to us. Thank you for this great book!

  2. says

    Love the vivid photography and the lyrical poetry. THAT’S MY GRANDPA — made me cry. What a wonderful way to introduce children to this rich culture of Navajo Rodeo!

  3. says

    Mazeltov, Nancy!

    I did not even realize that your rodeo poem had gotten a contract, and here it is already published, and here it’s been out for months and with wonderful reviews! How wonderful!

  4. Sonya Morgan says

    What an awesome book. I seen my son’s wooly riding picture. It’s so cute:) and he loves it:)

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