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Genre: Informational Text
An informational text informs the
reader about real people and the
real world.
“World Records” is about awards for
being the fastest, greatest or best in
the world. But people can win world
records in some unusual categories!
Genre: Tall Tale
A tall tale is a story with exaggeration.
When you exaggerate, you say something
is bigger or better than it actually is.
Some parts of a tall tale are realistic.
Other parts are exaggerations—they
cannot possibly be true.
“The Best Cowboy in the World” is a tall
tale about a cowboy named Pecos Bill.
by Barnaby Wright
The Best Cowboy
in the World
by Judy Goldman
Key Words
Identifying Events
by Chapters
Chapters are sections
of a story. They help
readers see how a story
is organized. Sometimes
there is one chapter for
each important event.
Authors also use chapters
to create suspense or
excitement. At the end of
one chapter, they leave
readers wondering what
will happen next.
1 Find the chapters in
the story. Look at the
picture for each one.
What do you think
is happening at the
beginning of each
2 Listen and follow.
The Best Cowboy
in the World
by Judy Goldman
144 Topic 8
A long time ago, when Texas was still a very wild place, Pa heard we
had a new neighbor only...fifty miles away! That was too crowded for us,
so Pa prepared the wagon. Ma and Pa packed the wagon with their few
possessions and their eighteen children. Then they drove to a less crowded
part of the state.
Billy was the youngest child. He was just a baby, but he was incredible.
He could speak when he was only two months old. He could ride a horse
when he was three months old. He could run when he was four months old.
He started exploring in the woods before his first birthday. He was never
afraid. He even played with wild animals!
till il
The Best Cowboy in the WorldThe Best Cowboy in the World
One very dark night near the Pecos River, the wagon hit a rock. It was
thrown to the left and then thrown to the right—and it almost crashed. The
children shouted and ended up in a tangled mess of arms and legs.
Topic 8146
In the confusion, nobody noticed that Billy had fallen out of the wagon.
Pa drove on and on. Many miles later, he stopped the wagon and everyone
got out. They were ready to eat supper and sleep.
Ma called out, “James, Justin, Jane, Jonah, Julia, Jerome, June, Joan,
Jill, Jeremiah, Jackson, Jake, Janet, Jennifer, Joy, Jessica, Josephine, Billy!”
Everyone—except Billy—answered, “Here, Ma!”
She called again. “James, Justin, Jane, Jonah, Julia, Jerome, June, Joan,
Jill, Jeremiah, Jackson, Jake, Janet, Jennifer, Joy, Jessica, Josephine, Billy!”
Everyone except Billy said, “Here!”
“Where’s Billy?” Ma asked and scratched her head.
Everyone looked here and there. They looked inside the wagon and
under the wagon. They even drove back a few miles, but Billy was not there.
After a few more days of searching, and because they were running out
of food, they tied the horses to the wagon and drove off. Ma, Pa and the
seventeen children were all very sad. But where WAS Billy???
The Best Cowboy in the World
After Billy fell out of the wagon, he sat up and looked at the darkness
around him.
He shouted, “Pa! Ma!” but no one answered.
Billy called, “James, Justin, Jane, Jonah, Julia, Jerome, June, Joan, Jill,
Jeremiah, Jackson, Jake, Janet, Jennifer, Joy, Jessica, Josephine!” But only
an owl hooted nearby.
He didn’t cry. He wasn’t afraid. He waited for his family to come and
get him.
And then he heard something moving...
Topic 8148
Something furry brushed against Billy’s neck.
Billy didn’t move.
A very wet tongue licked his face.
Billy laughed, stretched out his hand and touched something big and
furry. He held onto the creature’s tail and followed it home. Then, Billy curled
up and went to sleep.
When Billy woke up, he saw that he was in the den of a coyote and
her pups.
And that was just fine with him! He became one of the pack. He learned
how to hunt, howl at the moon and scratch his ear with his back leg.
The Best Cowboy in the World
Many years passed. Then one day, a cowboy rode by and saw Billy
playing with his pack.
He said, “You look just like my Pa! I’m Jonah and you must be my brother
Billy. We lost you and here you are! Do you want to come with me? I’ll show
you how to be a cowboy.”
Billy liked Jonah and the horse so he decided to stop being a coyote. He
said goodbye to his pack, put on some clothes and went away with Jonah. That
same day, Jonah started to teach him how to be a cowboy.
It wasn't easy being a cowboy. Billy learned how to hunt for food and
cook it on a fire. He learned how to find his way at night by using the stars.
He even learned how to take care of cows and horses. He also got a new
name: Pecos Bill.
150 Topic 8
Pecos Bill was brave and tough. He was also a fast learner. He became the best
cowboy in the whole world.
He could lasso anything. He lassoed rabbits and squirrels for supper. He
could even catch a bird.
One night, he saw that the cows wouldn’t go to sleep. He sang a song to calm
them. Now all cowboys sing at night to their cows.
He was also not afraid to fight wolves, bears and snakes with his hands.
Because he always won, they ran away from him as soon as they saw him.
Soon, all the other cowboys talked about him and his skills. They
admired his ability to ride. Pecos Bill could ride anything, and the proof was
his horse—Widow-Maker.
That horse was very bad-tempered and wild. No one, not even a mosquito,
could ride him. Every cowboy who tried to ride him was thrown off.
Then one day, Pecos Bill saw the horse. He knew he could ride him!
The Best Cowboy in the World
As soon as Pecos Bill jumped on the horse’s back, Widow-Maker got angry.
He snorted and jumped. Pecos Bill stayed on—for three days! Widow-Maker
finally gave up. From that day on, only Pecos Bill could ride Widow-Maker.
152 Topic 8
Cowboys said that there was nothing Pecos Bill couldn’t ride.
One day, Pecos Bill jumped on a tornado—the biggest, meanest,
strongest tornado ever. He was thrown to the left and then thrown to the
right. The wind blew down trees and houses, but he stayed on.
The storm continued for days and days. It rained so much that it
formed the Grand Canyon. When the tornado disappeared, Pecos Bill
fell to the ground. He landed so hard that he made a huge hole. Now
people call it Death Valley.
Cowboys say that Pecos Bill is still out West with his wife, Slue-Foot
Sue. She is just as brave and tough as he is. They take turns lassoing cows and
taking care of their forty kids.
The Best Cowboy in the World
1 Circle the correct answers.
Where does Pecos Bill grow up?
in a coyote’s den
with his family
with a group of cowboys
Who helps Pecos Bill become a cowboy?
his parents
his brother Jonah
Slue-Foot Sue
According to the story, what formed Death Valley?
a tornado
water flowing
Pecos Bill falling down
How does Widow-Maker act the first time Pecos Bill rides him?
He jumps and snorts.
He gives up right away.
He ignores Pecos Bill.
Why does Pecos Bill ride Widow-Maker and a tornado?
to win a contest
to impress his family
to prove he can ride anything
2 Label the pictures. Listen and check.
hoot howl lasso snort
1 2 3 4
In this tall tale, the author
builds up the story of Pecos
Bill by exaggerating several
things he does. As you
read, notice which actions
are realistic and which are
3 Exaggeration Read Pecos Bill’s actions.
Write R (realistic) or E (exaggerated).
falling out of a wagon
riding a horse at three months old
catching animals with a lasso
riding a tornado
making Death Valley
154 Topic 8
4 Identifying Events by Chapters Sort the events and complete the chart.
Pecos Bill works hard to become a great cowboy.
Bill’s family moves to a less crowded place.
Bill grows up with coyotes until his brother finds him.
Billy falls out of the wagon and is lost to his family.
Pecos Bill rides a bad-tempered horse and a tornado.
5 Active Reading Work in a small group. Answer the questions for one of the chapters.
In this chapter, how old is Billy?
Does someone teach Billy? Or does he do things on his own?
What does Billy learn to do?
Think and discuss. How does Billy grow and change in the story?
6 Write the next chapter in Pecos Bill’s story. Exaggerate!
The Best Cowboy in the World
Key Words
break a record
We All Love World Records!
Have you ever
wondered about world
records? Who has the world’s
loudest sneeze? Yi Yang
from China does! Who ran
the slowest marathon ever?
Lloyd Scott did! He wore a
deep-sea diving suit as he ran
the 42.2-kilometer race in the
London Marathon in 2002. It
took him five days, eight hours
and thirty minutes!
Where can you find
information like this? In the
Guinness Book of World Records.
It lists the greatest and the best
in the world!
Identifying Cause
and Effect Events
Cause and effect is a
relationship between
events. The cause is why
something happens. The
effect is the result of the
cause. To find cause and
effect, look for one event
that causes another.
by Barnaby Wright
This group of 530 dancers in South Africa is trying to break
the world record for the worlds largest ballet class.
Lloyd Scott
1 Think about
causes and
effects. Imagine
you woke up
late for school.
What might be
the cause?
2 Listen and
156 Topic 8
For more than sixty years, the Guinness
Book of World Records has kept all kinds of
records. The book is so popular that it has sold
more than 134 million copies around the world.
Officials update the book every year with the
new record holders. They approve about 6,000
records each year. People want to be famous
for their amazing achievements. Anyone can
set a record—individuals, groups and people
of all ages—including kids!
Let’s look at some of these world records.
What made the people decide to set such
incredible records? How did they do it?
An Amazing Talent
Some people were born with a special
talent. Sometimes this talent is so amazing
that it helps them break a world record at
a young age.
Jagger Eaton is one of them. He started
riding a skateboard when he was just four
years old. In 2012, when he was eleven
years old, he became the youngest athlete
ever to compete in the X Games. It's a new
world record!
Kelly Sildaru was also born with a
special talent. She can do incredible skiing
tricks! In 2016, when she was thirteen
years old, she became the youngest Winter
X Games winner.
Jagger Eaton and
his brother Jett
Kelly Sildaru
World Records
Victor de Leon III has a different kind of talent. He started playing video games
when he was just two years old. By age four, he was playing in competitions. Because of
his talent, Victor became a professional gamer at the age of six! He now holds the world
record for the youngest professional video gamer.
Strength in Numbers
Not everyone is born with a special talent. But people can still break world records by
asking their friends to help them! There are many records for the largest group of people
to do something together.
For example, in January 2016, 8,726 students from a dance school in India performed
the largest Bollywood dance ever. They dressed in matching yellow uniforms and danced
for nearly five minutes. For this group, it was not about individual achievement. It was
about doing something good. They set out to break the record to tell people about the
dangers of drugs.
Another large group set a world record while riding bicycles. In August 2015, the
largest bicycle parade ever was held in Thailand. There were 136,411 people riding
bicycles in the parade!
In Thailand, a world record 136,411
people rode bicycles in a parade.
158 Topic 8
A World-Record Setter
For some people, one world record is not enough! Ashrita Furman loved reading
about the people and places in the Guinness Book of World Records when he was a
boy. As a result, he decided to start breaking records himself. He now holds more
records than any other person alive! Since 1979, hes held more than 500 world
records. This is a record on its own!
Ashrita likes to break unusual records. He holds the world record for the highest
mountain climbed—on stilts! The mountain was almost three kilometers high.
Here are some of his other world records:
doing somersaults for the longest distance (19.6 kilometers)
walking the farthest with a milk bottle on his head (130.3 kilometers)
catching the most grapes in his mouth in one minute (86 grapes)
reciting a poem in the most languages
(203 of them!)
Ashrita doesn’t break every record he
attempts. For example, he once tried to
break the world record for the longest time
juggling underwater. He didn’t break the
record, but he still juggled underwater for
nearly thirty-eight minutes while sharks and
eels swam by!
Your Own World Record
What’s the best way to become a world-
record holder? Ashrita says that first you need
to choose a record to break. Find out what the current record is and then train hard.
Guinness will send you the rules for the record. When you try to break a record, you
have to be prepared for something to go wrong. Something usually does! Breaking a
world record is a great challenge. The person you’re challenging isn’t really the one
who holds the current record. You're challenging yourself!
Ashrita Furman tries to break the world record
for juggling underwater for the longest time.
World Records
1 Match the people with the world records.
Lloyd Scott a youngest Winter X Games winner
Jagger Eaton b youngest professional video gamer
Kelly Sildaru c highest mountain climbed on stilts
Victor de Leon III d youngest X Games athlete
Ashrita Furman e slowest marathon
2 Label the pictures.
compete juggle recite sneeze stilts talent
3 Circle the correct answers.
Of these world-record-winning groups, which is the largest?
Bollywood dancers
in India
bicycle riders
in Thailand
ballet dancers in
South Africa
How do you think people feel when they break a world record?
Why do you think it is important to update the Guinness Book of World Records?
People break world
records every year.
People think of new kinds of
world records every year.
People make mistakes in
the book every year.
160 Topic 8
4 Identifying Cause and Effect Events Color the causes red. Color the effects green.
Dance students in India wanted to
do something good.
They broke a world record for the
largest Bollywood dance ever.
Ashrita decided to start breaking
world records.
Ashrita read the Guinness Book
of World Records as a boy.
Ashrita didn’t break the world
record for underwater juggling.
Ashrita only juggled underwater
for thirty-eight minutes.
You made up your own world record. Guinness doesn’t accept it.
5 Cause and Effect Words Find and
circle the words because and as a
result in the text.
Match the parts of the sentences.
Use cause and effect words to
help you. Listen and check.
Emma trained hard for months;
because he was riding too fast.
Craig fell off his bike
so the students stopped talking.
The teacher arrived,
since I had the highest score.
I won the competition
as a result, she broke a world record.
6 Active Reading Imagine you work for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Interview a world-record holder. Take turns.
7 Think and discuss. Choose one of Ashrita Furman’s unusual world records to
challenge. Why did you choose this record? How will you practice or train to
break the record?
Cause and Effect Words
Writers use words such as because, so, as a result and since
to show the relationship between a cause and effect. For
example, the author writes, “Because of his talent, Victor
became a professional gamer at the age of six!”
World Records
Connect to Me
1 Write a tall tale based on your life.
Think about your life. Choose four events or achievements. Include one exaggeration.
Write them in the chart.
Event /
Event /
Event /
Event /
Write your story. Think about how each event builds on the one before it.
Tell your story to the class.
Connect to Social Studies
1 Research world records online.
Choose a topic to research at or a similar website.
Use a key word or phrase, such as “cat,” to search the site. Find three world records for
your topic. Complete a chart like this one.
World Records: Cats
Record Who What Where
Smallest cat ever Tinker Toy
7 centimeters tall,
19 centimeters long
United States
(Taylorville, Illinois)
162 Topic 8