Things are looking mighty grim for a gold miner in the Arizona desert one Tuesday morning. His troubles come in many forms, not the least of which is a clever pack rat doing what pack rats do best. In this delightful picture book, Tuesday in Arizona, young readers can follow the trials and tribulations of a gold prospector for a full week, during which the prospector is plagued by a stubborn mule, heat, hunger, thieves, and a noticeable lack of the very thing he's looking for gold. Marian Harris uses wonderful vocabulary and word play to bring alive the story of this old curmudgeon miner. "It was no picnic draggin' them beans 'cross the wrinkles in the road." With witty understatement like this, we know exactly what kind of person the miner is tough, crusty, and determined not to give up.
The illustrations by Jim Harris, the other half of this talented husband/wife team, are bright and colorful, capturing the isolation of the southwest. His illustrations in caricature style add lots of additional content to the understated text, making the book worth several look-throughs just to pick up all the details.
Marian, who also writes biology and chemistry textbooks, and Jim have each won recent children's book awards for their work, but this is their first joint effort. You may recognize Jim's big-headed characters from his current bestseller, Ten Little Dinosaurs.
Tuesday in Arizona is a book that adults and kids alike will enjoy reading, not only for the humor, but for its message of hope as well. The miner comes close to chucking it all, but he perseveres through many hardships, proving that even the worst of times can eventually turn around. One warning: this book is best read aloud. So brush up on your drawl, spit polish your boots, grab your cowboy hat and a child and enjoy!Reviewed by Elizabeth Hanley.