Gary Paulsen is the distinguished author of many acclaimed books for young people, including three Newbery Honor book: The Winter Room, Hatchet, and Dogsong. His novel The Haymeadow received the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award. His newest Delacorte Press books are Nightjohn, Mr. Tucket, and Father Water, Mother Woods: in the North Woods. He and his wife have homes in New Mexico and on Pacific.
Gr 4-8‘In this spirited sequel to Mr. Tuckett (Delacorte, 1994), Paulsen recounts the continuing frontier adventures of Francis Tuckett, 15. Heading west by wagon train with his family a year before, Francis had been captured by the Pawnees and rescued by a savvy, one-armed mountain man. Now on his own, he is determined to return to civilization. Armed with a rifle and knowledge of the wilderness, he hunts deer and buffalo, survives a stampede, and outwits a pair of outlaws. When an abandoned wagon reveals two orphans, he takes charge, taking the children to a trading post and hesitantly leaving them with the cold, calculating owner. Traveling 10 miles, the young man is haunted by his own loss of family and returns to find Lottie and Billy beaten and burdened with chores. With fierce determination, he reclaims them and together they continue their westward journey. Francis is an understated, appealing character. His remarkable independence, resourcefulness, and perseverance are tempered by bouts of adolescent insecurity and an emotional need for family. Sharply etched characters, vivid scenery, and dramatic encounters make this book an entertaining read for young adventurers.‘Gerry Larson, Neal Middle School, Durham, NC
The hero of this stallion-swift adventure tale, the followup to Mr. Tucket, could be the adolescent prefiguration of the archetypal western good guy-Gary Cooper or Clint Eastwood with a voice that's just begun to crack. Francis Tucket is 14 or 15-he's no longer sure of how much time has passed since a Pawnee raid on an Oregon-bound wagon train separated him from his family-but he can take care of himself. Hooking up with another wagon party, he volunteers to ``ride wide'' and hunt; he shoots a buffalo, causes a stampede, shoots again, gets robbed of all his possessions and then bests the thieves, all in the first few chapters. A cool-headed survivor in the mold of Hatchet's protagonist, Francis also cares about doing what's right, and so, when he meets two abandoned children, he assumes responsibility for them at some personal cost. Paulsen stumbles only once, in characterizing one of the children as a garrulous girl who has ``a place in me full of words and when I open the door to that place they just start coming...'' Elsewhere, he weaves in a wealth of information about pioneer travel, adding historical value to this heartstopping good read. Ages 10-up. (June)