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“One of the books every boy should have on his bookshelf.”
—San Francisco Examiner

The Legend of Lightning Larry

Book illustration

By Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Toni Goffe

No outlaw could draw as fast as Lightning Larry. But what really terrified those bad men was that peculiar gun of his. It didn’t shoot bullets. It shot light. And Larry always aimed for the heart.

Can Larry save the town of Brimstone from Evil‑Eye McNeevil’s outlaw gang? Find out in this rip-roaring original tale of a gunfighter with a huge smile and a hankering for lemonade.

Picture book • Ages 4–12

Aaron Shepard’s many books for young people have won honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the American Folklore Society, and the National Council for the Social Studies. Once a professional storyteller, he specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature.

Toni Goffe is the illustrator and sometimes author of numerous well-loved children's books, including Aaron's The Legend of Slappy Hooper and Toni's own Joe Giant's Missing Boot, used in the UK national reading curriculum. He is the winner of the 1993 Gold Medallion Book Award.


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To download now, just hit the link below. No personal info or approval is required. And please feel free to share this offer with others.

The Legend of Lightning Larry ARC
(PDF, 7 MB)

Skyhook Press

Paperback ~ 2005

Ebook ~ 2013

Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition ~ 2017

Hardcover, 25th Anniversary Edition ~ 2018

Simon & Schuster/Atheneum

Hardcover ~ 1993


Hardcover ~ 1993

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Book cover


“One of the books every boy should have on his bookshelf; girls will probably like the story too . . . The language is perfect, [with] the right dose of silliness to make both parents and children chuckle . . . The illustrations are ideal.”—Cindi Rose, San Francisco Examiner, Aug. 20, 2012

“A tall-tale superhero for our time . . . Shepard tells his tale with such exuberant good humor, and explores the consequences with such comical logic, that the moral doesn’t detract from the fun. A readaloud that could lighten up classes well up in the elementary grades.”—Kirkus Reviews, Mar. 1, 1993

“Pass out the bandanas and dig out the spittoon. Read this story in an old‑timer’s voice, and everyone will have a good time.”—Chris Sherman, American Library Association Booklist, Mar. 1, 1993

“Move over Wyatt Earp. Make room for a cowboy of a different caliber. This refreshing, humorous, tongue-in-cheek ‘legend’ has a traditional ring, with an upbeat, easy-to-take message. A wide age range of listeners will request this one again and again.”—School Library Journal, Nov. 1993

“A rib-tickler . . . Kids will enjoy acting this out as readers theatre.”—Jan Lieberman, TNT, Spring 1993

“Lovely . . . Should reach the tickly bone of youngsters.”—Storyline, June 1993

“Perfect for telling or reading out loud.”—Katy Rydell, Stories, Spring 1993

“My class loved this story. Great to use when introducing tall tales.”—D. Peccianti, Reviews of All Resources (Monterey Peninsula USD)

“Introduces one amazing cowpoke . . . Will have young listeners laughing out loud and asking you to ‘read it again.’”—Smithsonian, Nov. 1993

“The book is entertaining and provides grist for discussions.”—Sparks: Mid‑South Children’s Book Review Journal, Spring 1994.

“Told in the spirited language of a true yarn-spinner, this is a rollicking picture book to warm the heart of just about everyone.”—Kids’ Line, Summer 1993

“The old west is turned on its ear in this lighthearted tall tale . . . Shepard’s frontier vernacular manages to be both faithful to the genre and hilariously funny; the book reads aloud wonderfully . . . Especially good for classroom use.”—Wendy E. Betts, The Web Online Review, Apr. 22, 1994

“Rollicking . . . Will surely find a place in your storytelling heart.”—The Story Bag, Special Review Issue.

Sample Text

Hear This Sample Text (1:31 minutes)

I’ll never forget the day Larry rode into our little town of Brimstone and walked into the Cottonmouth Saloon. He strode up to the bar and smiled straight at the bartender.

“Lemonade, please,” he said.

Every head in the place turned to look.

Now, standing next to Larry at the bar was Crooked Curt. Curt was one of a band of rustlers and thieves that had been terrorizing our town, led by a ferocious outlaw named Evil‑Eye McNeevil.

Curt was wearing the usual outlaw scowl. Larry turned to him and smiled. “Mighty big frown you got there, mister,” he said.

“What’s it to you?” growled Curt.

“Well,” said Larry, “maybe I could help remove it.”

“I’d like to see you try!” said Curt.

The rest of us got out of the way, real fast. The bartender ducked behind the bar. Larry and Curt moved about ten paces from each other, hands at the ready. Larry was still smiling.

Curt moved first. But he only just cleared his gun from its holster before Larry aimed and fired.


There was no bang and no bullet. Just a little bolt of light that hit Curt right in the heart.

Curt just stood there, his eyes wide with surprise. Then he dropped his gun, and a huge grin spread over his face. He rushed up to Larry and pumped his hand.

“I’m mighty glad to know you, stranger!” he shouted. “The drinks are on me! Lemonade for everyone!”

Sample text copyright © 1993 Aaron Shepard. Illustration copyright © 1993 Toni Goffe.

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