BMJ Winner

2013 Winner Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award
The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town
Written by Mary Casanova
Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

When outlaw Dirk Yeller arrives in Cowtown looking for something to take away his cat-scratch fever, young Sam, whose pa says he is “a world-a-trouble and curious as a tomcat,” knows just what this dangerous and jittery criminal needs to calm him down. A rollicking Wild West adventure that celebrates the power of books.

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, c2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-374-31742-3
ATOS Reading Level: 3.1
Lexile Measure: 610
lyon Author:

A complete biography is on Mary’s website. A few highlights include that she has published +19 titles and has many more under construction. Her book awards include “American Library Association “Notable”, Aesop Accolades by the American Folklore Society, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Booklist Editior Choice, and 2 Minnesota Book Awards. Mary loves to travel and uses these experiences when writing.

She’s one of Minnesota’s most successful authors. Meet Mary Casanova, author of children’s literature and picture books, at work in her hometown of Ranier. The Playlist shares her writing process and her latest inspiration. Visit her online at

Ard Hoyt was born in Temple, Texas and raised on picture books. From a very early age he discovered that even though he wasn’t allowed to cross the street, he could go anywhere in a picture book. He fell in love with the worlds created by Robert Lawson, Steven Kellogg and H.A. Rey. This freedom grew to include his own pictures. Before long Ard discovered that with a white sheet of paper he could change the weather. He knew that he wanted to be a children’s book illustrator and dreamed of one day having a book with his name on it next to the great ones. Visit him at


–Watch this video of a book review about Dirk Yeller by two students and create your own book review for other books on the Bill Martin Jr. list.

–Bundle this story with some other tall-tale picture books and chart what elements are stretched beyond belief.

–Make a list of examples of colloquialisms in the story and create a list of your own to use in your own story or book review.

Connections and Related Books:

MacMillan Publisher Website:

More information:

Personal review from Tina Quall and book bundling ideas:

Possible theme connections: