This book is difficult for me to assign stars to because I thought it was a five star book, but I doubt the kids will even remember it.
I really think this is a story moms and dads will like, and it will certainly give them warm feelings as they think about their little ones engaged in make believe. The illustrations are simple, but they are just absolutely poignant. The story is also very simple, but it is so full of emotion and feeling, particularly to the grown-up who loves their little ones and their play. Five stars from the grown-up point of view.
Now. The kid point of view. My niece barely even registered that I was reading this book. Complete bomb for her. My nephew was engaged, but it didn't hold his attention for long. Neither of them "got" the dual story being told through the images (nor did I really expect them to). My nephew got the literal story that was on the page, but he certainly didn't get that the little boy was engaged in make belive. I think that from the kids' perspective it was just a story, and maybe not even one that was particularly great. Or, maybe The Brave Cowboy just couldn't compete with the Pokemon toys that came in the kids' Happy Meals! I must remember that kids think Happy Meal toys are the finest things ever created, and I must not expect a book from 1959 to stand toe to toe with such marvels of human creation.