by Gary Paulsen
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Personal Evaluation: This book is full of danger, adventure, and learning how to “rough it”. Francis finds himself separated from his family on the Oregon Trail but, when it seems possible to catch back up to them, makes the remarkable choice not to. They are different from Paulsen’s Brian books in that he has a mentor, but besides that they are classic Gary Paulsen. My library’s copy actually has the 5 Tucket books in one volume so I sneaked and read the end of the last one to find out if there was a happy ending. I was really pretty skeptical when one of the categories we had to read for this project was Westerns and had trouble finding them, but this one was pretty good. I’m still not convinced they’re worth a whole category in our project, but I consider my horizons expanded.
What might interest children: Lovers of Hatchet and other surviving-on-the-land books will enjoy these. Francis is still just a boy with a rifle, he gets shaky the first time he kills a deer and has to learn the most basic common sense about living in the wilderness, especially among Indians. It would also be a book for kids interested in historical fiction about the 1850s (Little House lovers, etc).