Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Old Yeller"

"Old Yeller" by Fred Gipson is a book about fourteen year old Travis. Or at least for some people. But the book is really about Old Yeller, a dog named for both his yelps and the color of his fur: a dingy yellow. He stumbles into the lives of Travis and Little Arliss  (Travis' younger brother) in the late 1860s, and doesn't give off the best first impression, stealing their food. But five year old Little Arliss loves him, and wants to keep him. He had never had a dog before, like Travis had Bell- their dog who died from a snake bite the previous summer - and wants him very badly. Travis is the man of the house now that his father has gone off to Kansas, and as the man of the house, he tries to convince his mother that they need to get rid of the ugly dog. But after Old Yeller saves Little Arliss, it seems right to keep him. And that is where the many adventures with Old Yeller begin.

I liked this book. I thought that it taught you a lot about life at that time, and the details make you want to cry at times, as you think of the pain and suffering both Old Yeller and Travis went through. The ending is predictable, and whether it was meant to be that way or not, I don't know for sure. You know from the beginning that something sad is going to happen. I give this 1956 Newberry Honor Book 4 stars. It was good, but simply not my favorite. I would recommend it though, and especially to boys. If you skip over the dark parts, it would be fine for anyone, but because there are many dark and sad parts to the book, you may not want to read it to very young children. And I probably wouldn't read it on my own until I was about eight.

The book is 181 pages (I have the soft cover HarperTrophy one), and has sixteen chapters.


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