To say I’m in love with the new children’s book “The Dirty Cowboy” seems like a bit of an understatement. Since it crossed my desk two weeks ago, I have managed to read it aloud to at least 25 people (only two of whom were children). …It’s hard to choose which is more satisfying – the story or the illustrations – but what is clear is that together, these two first-time authors have made one darn fine children’s book.
— Heather Lee Schroeder, The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Fans of Captain Underpants, rejoice! Here is a hilarious new picture book that will produce laundry loads of laughter.
— Esme´ Raji Codell,

The Dirty Cowboy

With keen determination, a cowboy saddles his horse, packs up a bar of soap, calls for his dog, and sets out on the long journey to the river. Once there, he instructs the dog to guard his clothes while he takes his bath. After washing and scrubbing and lathering and buffing, the cowboy comes clean and wants to get started home. But an unforeseeable obstacle complicates matters when he fixes on retrieving his duds.


  • SCBWI's Golden Kite Award 
  • First Prize in the Marion Vannett Ridgway Awards
  • International Reading Association Notable Book
  • A Parents Choice Gold Medal Winner
  • A Bulletin Blue Ribbon (The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books)
  • Finalist for the Spur Award (Western Writers of America)
  • Finalist for Southeast Booksellers Association Book Award
  • Nominated for Georgia Picture Book Award


  • New York Times Book Review!
  • Kirkus Reviews (Starred): …side-splitting double debut… 
  • Publishers Weekly (Starred): …outstanding debut for both author and illustrator. Timberlake’s keen comic timing and abundant western witticisms fit hand in glove with Rex’s farcical golden-and copper-toned illustrations
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (Starred): …a rootin’ tootin’ good read anytime…
  • School Library Journal: Told in descriptive language that rolls off the tongue … 
  • Child: The tale sparkles with comic colloquialisms and hilarious illustrations… 
  • Miami Herald: G-Rated Riot 

It's a family story...


Papa Tells the Story (the original recording)

Below is the raw audio that inspired the book. This is a cassette tape recording of my grandfather, James K. Richardson Sr., telling the story of "The Dirty Cowboy" to me and my husband. Though everyone is welcome to listen, I imagined this being most useful for educators -- perhaps for encouraging their students to record family stories, transcribe them, and then transform that raw material into all sorts of other written work -- short stories, picture book texts, poetry and experimental whatnots. Warning: Technologically, this is ROUGH. I've turned a cassette tape into a digital recording and mashed it together with a few powerpoint slides and a photo.  


Lifeline Theatre's Adaptation (2008)

It's a musical! Who knew?