The Outlaw, by Nancy Vo, (May 2018, Groundwood Books), $17.95, ISBN: 9781773060163
Recommended for readers 5-9
A small town in the Old West is terrorized by an Outlaw, who disappears one day. But when a mysterious stranger rides into town and starts making repairs and improvements, it draws close attention from some of the townspeople. Can even the meanest outlaws get redemption?
This is a beautifully created story of redemption and empathy. The spare text finds power in its brevity, with powerful mixed media images to enhance the story. The Outlaw quietly comes back to town – has he had a moment of clarity? – to make life in the town better, but when he’s recognized, any goodwill he may have built up is dashed: until a young boy stands up to the crowd. And sometimes, a voice of reason is all it takes to set change in motion. Not everyone will be on board, but the value; the importance, of taking a stand is the important thing. The Outlaw brings strong themes of empathy and redemption to readers, and with it, the opportunity for solid discussion about forgiveness and whether or not good deeds balance out terrible wrongs.
Author-illustrator Nancy Vo’s webpage has more of her artwork, links to her blog, and information about her books.