The Original Cowgirl

Written by Heather Lang Suzanne Beaky (illus.)
Review by Arleigh Johnson

The true story of the first female rodeo competitor, Lucille Mulhall, this children’s picture book features bright, full-page illustrations and an easy-to-follow narrative of the cowgirl’s life from fearless child to Wild West performer and role model.

Lucille is not like other girls, who like to wear fancy dresses and sip tea. To her mother’s disappointment, Lucille wanted to be outdoors, riding horses and roping cattle. Her father, who organized rodeo events, saw her genuine skill and encouraged her to practice and eventually enter the all-male competitions. To everyone’s surprise, she not only did exceedingly well, but won numerous prizes and eventually came to the notice of none other than Vice Presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. She broke records, suffered injuries, and ignored jeers—but perhaps one of her most extraordinary accomplishments was her unintentional contribution to the upcoming women’s rights movement.

Though Lang glosses over some of the sketchier history of the Mulhall family, it is an appropriate approach for a children’s book. Lucille herself was a courageous and talented young woman who opened the door for others in her wake, and is truly the “original cowgirl.” This volume includes and timeline and short history of the Lucille Mulhall’s life.