June 25, 2020

Howdy, I'm John Ware

Written by Ayesha Clough
Illustrated by Hugh Rookwood
Howdy Books (Red Barn Books)
978-1-9991087-8-6
48 pp.
Ages 6-11
January 2020

John Ware, born into slavery around 1850, was a man of strong character and fortitude, who parlayed hard work and his skills as a cowboy into a life of accomplishment in present-day Alberta.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Though accounts of John Ware's early life are spotty, it is known that, after the abolition of slavery, he was hired on as a ranch hand, earning a reputation as a hard worker. Working as a cowboy on cattle drives, John Ware helped move cattle from the southern US to the north. It was one drive in 1882 that brought cattle from Idaho to the foothills near Calgary and landed John Ware north of the border and into the country that would become his home.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Regardless of his accomplishments as a cowboy, John Ware still suffered the discrimination of a black man in the predominantly white world of ranching. Nevertheless, his skills and good nature would ultimately win over those who'd seen only his skin colour, recognizing him as an outstanding man of integrity and determination.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
There are stories of extraordinary courage and strength and the legends about John Ware covered everything from wrestling steers, lifting a cow, walking on the backs of bulls and be able to ride anything. In addition to John Ware's accomplishments as a cowboy, he became a rancher, starting with a small herd, marrying, and growing his family and his ranch into a fine life. Upon his death, his funeral was "the largest that young city (Calgary) had ever seen" with ranchers calling him the finest gentleman, a good soul and an incredible horseman.
From Howdy, I'm John Ware by Ayesha Clough, illus. by Hugh Rockwood
Ayesha Clough tells John Ware's story as he might recount it, sharing how others saw him or what they knew of him while expressing his own surprise, pleasure and sadness with life's milestones. His attitude to the animals is especially poignant.
     I connected with animals. Like me, they had to work for a master. But there was no need for fear and violence.
     I cared about them, showed them love and respect. They, in turn, gave their best for me. (pg. 23)
Appended with photos, a timeline and notes for educators, Ayesha Clough helps ensure that John Ware's story is remembered. Though his accomplishments have been recognized with a number of place names like Mount Ware and John Ware Ridge as well as several buildings, this picture book will serve to introduce him to young children.  He achieved so much as a cowboy and, with decency and hard work, created a life of goodness for himself and his family and, with comic book artist Hugh Rookwood's illustrations to focus on the occasions of the cowboy's life, both challenging and impressive, John Ware's story becomes accessible to all young readers. 

It is fitting that two Albertans, Ayesha Clough and Hugh Rookwood, should honour another Albertan, John Ware, a cowboy who dealt with racial discrimination and achieved respect and admiration from all, by telling his story in Howdy, I'm John Ware. It's a story I hope all will read.

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Giveaway!

I have a free copy of Howdy, I'm John Ware for giveaway from publisher Red Barn Books. 
For your chance at this giveaway,
just leave a comment below about why you'd like a copy of the book.
I'll do a random draw at 6 p.m. EST on June 29, 2020.

Good luck, readers! 

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11 comments:

  1. I have always loved the story of John Ware and am pleased to see a book for children about his life. Would love to win a copy of the book.

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    1. I am so glad that this book was published to highlight John Ware's life. He was an impressive man.

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  2. Helen, thank you for this thorough and insightful review. We hope John Ware will be a role model for a future generation of Canadian ranchers, and anyone who's a cowboy/cowgirl at heart. Warm wishes, Ayesha

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    1. You're very welcome. Thank you for the review copies.

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  3. I would like a copy of this book to teach my children about John Ware. He was a gentle soul and a dedicated hardworker who experienced so much.
    I would love to win a copy of this book.
    As well such a big fan of Hugh Rookwood's work.

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  4. Love the story of John Ware. He was such an influential cowboy of Alberta history

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    1. Good luck! Check back on Monday to see if you've won.

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  5. Random number generator selected the number...wait for it... ONE !!! So, Darlene, you are the winner of a copy of "Howdy, I'm John Ware." DM me on Twitter to get me the address to which you'd like the book sent. Congratulations!

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  6. I am over the moon excited to have won this book! I can't wait to share it with the young readers in my life. Thanks so much!!

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    1. So glad it will be appreciated, Darlene. Happy reading! Ayesha

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