Cowboy Joel and Blackbeard find themselves face to face with El Maton, the most feared desperado in the West. When El Maton mocks him for the way he looks, Joel must confront his biggest fear; a tongue-slingin’ with the outlaw. Can Blackbeard convince Joel to do it? Will Joel find the courage?
Note to Mom and Dad: Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.
Joel Gagnon lives in a small Arizona town filled with tumbleweeds and cactus. Joel has Goldenhar syndrome, which means he was born missing some parts. His favorite things are Dodge Ram trucks, camping, and Legos.
Blackbeard is a juvenile Bearded Dragon from the outback of Australia. The Gagnons adopted him from a reptile orphanage where he had been bullied by bigger Dragons. He is also missing some parts. His talents include sitting still for long periods of time, catching crickets on the run, and winning staring contests with the Gagnon children.
Authors and Illustrator
The Gagnon family is an atypical, hodgepodge mix of humanity. The entire family enjoyed writing this book, with each one contributing their own input. Each child in the family has their own special story, and each one faces their own unique challenges.
Seth Yoder thinks it’s cool that drawing, which he used to do for fun, is now part of his job! He loves art, singing, hunting, and the fact that God gave a name to each of the trillions of stars in our universe. If there’s a deep theological discussion or chicken-bacon-ranch pizza, you’ll find Seth in the immediate vicinity. Seth illustrated this book from his corner office in the small town of Winesburg, Ohio.
“I loved the message in the story about being brave. Oftentimes children, as well as adults, do not realize the impact we are making when we stare at others that may ‘look’ different than we do, or use unkind words to mock and hurt them. I look forward to reading this story to my kindergarten students and explaining to them that we are all the same, no matter what our differences are, and that we need to be kind and treat others the way we want to be treated.” —Lisa Fuller, B.S. Early Childhood Education, Kindergarten Teacher
“Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West is a great book about overcoming the everyday fear of being different and of bullies. The great balance of wit and bravery displayed by Joel and his sidekick Blackbeard teaches kids that it is not only okay to be different, but everyone has something special that makes them an individual.” —Jessica Vocca, M.Ed Educational Administration, Principal, Dr. Daniel Bright School
“When a thrilling imagination meets the sturdy virtues of moral character, what you have is more than a book; you have a tool to shape and sharpen the next generation. Cowboy Joel provides the charm, intrigue, and spirit to capture any child’s attention while subtly weaving in the principles needed to strengthen every heart.” —James Joiner, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Northern Arizona University
“I liked the part where the lizard told Cowboy Joel he could be brave. It made me very happy. I want to be brave like Cowboy Joel.”— Kellen, age 6