Copyright © 2013 Lisa Moser
Illustrations Copyright © 2013 Sebastiaan Van Doninck
The minute Boyd and Calliope rode onto the Double R Ranch, folks knew they were different. Calliope isn’t like all the other cowboys’ horses. She’s a rhinoceros, after all, and Boyd has a real strong belief in her. When a storm hits the Double R Ranch, Mighty Calliope rises to the occasion just like Cowboy Boyd always knew she would.
How it was written. . .
Sometimes, the ideas for stories come to me in the funniest ways. Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope became a book because of a long car ride, a nap and some very groggy thinking.
My husband, daughter, and I visited my sister’s family in Iowa. We hopped in the car for the long, seven-hour ride home. My husband drove, and I settled in for an afternoon of daydreaming. I love those rare snippets of time where you can just sit, relax, and imagine. Of course, after a while, I feel asleep because I always, always fall asleep on car rides.
When I woke up, it was dusk. I looked out over a beautiful Iowa farm field to see a group of horses silhouetted against the glowing sunset. There must have been a pony in with the horses, but I had just woken up and was still a little groggy. I thought to myself, “How did that rhinoceros get into the pasture with those horses?” And boom! I had the start to a story―a cowboy who rides a rhinoceros instead of a horse.
Then the daydreaming really began! I thought about all of the things a rhinoceros might do differently than a horse. Calliope wouldn’t be as fast as the horses. Calliope wouldn’t do chores the same as the horses. Calliope wouldn’t know her own strength. But she would have a cowboy who had a real strong belief in her. And that’s all she would need.
I’ve dedicated this book to the three dogs I’ve loved in my lifetime―Spotty, Hawkeye and Coach. I’ve been lucky to have shared their boundless joy, their steadfast companionship and their unconditional love.
Spotty was my childhood dog―the one who grew up with me, listened to all my secrets, shared in my adventures, comforted me when I was sad, and stayed with me at night until I was sound asleep. He could sit up like a gopher for hours, faked a leg injury whenever he wanted more attention, and covered anyone who lay on the floor with kisses.
Hawkeye was our dog that we got when we were first married, and he inspired my book The Monster in the Backpack by eating my students’ homework when I was a fifth grade teacher . Sometimes naughty, always loved, Hawkeye was the definition of loyal.
Coach―or Coachie Boy, as we like to call him―was joy and love in a fur coat. He always snuggled up beside me, with his head in my lap, whenever I wrote. Coach loved to sneak down to the pond for a swim several times a day, roll in a mud puddle until he was completely covered, ride in the car, run down a trail, and cuddle every moment he could. Truly, whenever I called him in the back yard, he ran to me with his ears flapping and the biggest smile imaginable. Coach loved anyone and everyone, and he was pretty sure they loved him, too.
Time has passed since I first published Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope. We have a new dog in our house, now. His name is Chester, and he is funny, quirky, sweet, and loving. We always hike in the morning, so he can run and play. When we get home, I say, "Let's go to work." Chester races upstairs to my office to his special spot. I've set up some ottomans with his favorite blanket by the window. He can look out the window over the neighborhood, and I can look over at him while I write. He is the best office buddy!
There’s a little bit of Spotty, Hawkeye, Coach, and Chester in the character of Calliope. Like Cowboy Boyd, I sure had a real strong belief in them, and they had the same belief in me.
I dedicated this book to the three dogs in my life―Spotty, Hawkeye and Coach. I loved them so much!
Starred review in Kirkus Reviews
• "The silly situation bolsters the themes of kindness, friendship and acceptance, as the characters learn to have a strong belief in each other. A ten-gallon hat full of fun, with a heartfelt message to boot."
-Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2013
• "A horse is a horse, of course, except when it's a rhinoceros. That's the silly, unstated backstory in Moser's upbeat tale about a kind young cowboy's unwavering faith in his trusted mount. . . Moser plays Boyd's sweet naiveté against the ranchers' deadpan expressions of concern to great humorous effect."
- Publishers Weekly, June 10, 2013