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Florida: 1933

A train, rushing through the night ... a car, stalled in its path ... a boy's life, shattered. Tugwell Dockery hasn't spoken since the horrific events that unfolded one afternoon six years ago at his grandfather's ranch. Now he's back there, newly orphaned, living with his grandfather and gutsy great-aunt.

Broda Joe Dockery hasn't seen his brother since his incarceration two years ago at the Pecan County Correctional Labor Camp. ...

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Florida: 1933

A train, rushing through the night ... a car, stalled in its path ... a boy's life, shattered. Tugwell Dockery hasn't spoken since the horrific events that unfolded one afternoon six years ago at his grandfather's ranch. Now he's back there, newly orphaned, living with his grandfather and gutsy great-aunt.

Broda Joe Dockery hasn't seen his brother since his incarceration two years ago at the Pecan County Correctional Labor Camp. Now, realizing Tug must live at the site of a tragedy he witnessed, Broda Joe knows he must be with his brother, even if it means breaking the law and risking his life.

Robert Newton Peck writes of grit and courage, and the steel-strong bonds that unite families and endure beyond life itself.

Young Tug Dockery witnesses a brutal act by his grandfather that leaves him unable to speak, so when his parents die, Tug's beloved older brother feels compelled to escape from a hellish labor camp to rescue him from their grandfather's Florida cattle ranch.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robert Newton Peck takes readers back to the Depression-era setting of his Horse Thief in Bro. When young Tugwell Dockery is orphaned after a train hits his parents' car and kills them, his aunt Lulu takes him in while his incarcerated brother, Broda Joe, escapes prison to reunite with Tug. The long arm of the law soon comes to track down Tug's fraternal fugitive. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nine-year-old Tugwell Dockery has not spoken since he was witness to a brutal occurrence on his grandfather's ranch six years ago. When an old car stalls on the train tracks and his parents are both killed in the ensuing accident, Tug finds himself back at the Diamond Dee Ranch. He longs to see his brother, Broda Joe (the Bro of the title) again, but Bro—the one beloved figure in Tug's troubled set of memories—is in a labor camp for a petty crime. Under the surface of this action-packed novel lie threads of personal turmoil and social injustice, the lives of the characters drawing on larger historical constructs of place and circumstance. The setting is well realized in its clarity and lack of sentimentality. In this, the juxtaposition of the sympathetic Bro with the caricatured O'Grady is more effective than the grandfather's story of that horrifying incident of years ago. That comes across as hastily told, an important plot point that does not quite earn its promised place in the narrative. Robert Peck's fans will sense a familiar hand here. Lightly sketched characters like Police Chief Sweetbutter are reminiscent of the humor in Peck's earlier novel, Horse Thief. Both the birth of the foal and the inevitable nature of the tragedy to come echo the significant themes of life and loss in A Day No Pigs Would Die. In addition, Bro features a certain playfulness in the use of many voices and points of view. The effect is of a motley patchwork of people whose deeds, intentions, resentments and longings all have an impact on the life of one boy. As for Tug, "like a stake . . . pounded into the ground," you can practically feel the words bursting out of his soul,awkward and fulsome in a nine-year-old way, unable to be rendered in sound. 2005 (orig. 2004), HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Uma Krishnaswami
How Southern do you like your books? This veteran writer again offers readers a tale of rural boys looming gaunt and terse into manhood. There is even a visceral animal-birthing scene akin to the opening in Peck's A Day No Pigs Would Die (Knopf, 1972). The setting here is Depression-era Florida, on the Diamond Dee ranch of the estranged Docker family. Young Tugwell ("Tug") has not spoken a word since his grandfather axed four horses in a rage. Grampap is no lunatic—one of the horses had just killed his wife. Tug's best friend is his older brother, Bro, but Bro is in a stereotypically hellish work camp for running bootleg liquor. After an auto accident kills their parents, Tug must live with his elderly great-aunt Lulu and the grandfather who still scares him. One can imagine the rest, but add in some cross-dressing jailbreaks, bonding through hard outdoors work, and a staunch version of masculinity. Peck's writing rings sharp and clear, peppered with phrases such as "as down to earth as a mud puddle." His descriptions of Lulu's cooking are especially sumptuous. Each main character takes a turn narrating the different chapters, and it is a successful device—one empathizes with the individual struggles to communicate and heal, even if their voices are not all that different. And although some readers might find Peck's homilies a bit much, most will devour the book like a plate of hot biscuits. VOYA Codes 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, HarperCollins, 150p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Travis Fristoe
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Traumatized by a brutal event on his grandfather's cattle ranch that left him speechless six years before, nine-year-old Tugwell Dockery is forced to return to Diamond Dee Ranch after his parents are killed in a train accident. Fearful of his explosive grandfather, grateful for the kindness of his great-aunt Lulu, and anxious to be reunited with his imprisoned beloved brother, Broda Joe (Bro), Tug gradually learns ranch routines and begins to forgive his grandfather's rage and understand his grief. The motley cast of characters, rural 1930s Florida colloquialisms, and down-home humor and wisdom echo Peck's entertaining Horse Thief (HarperCollins, 2002). However, Bro's harsh prison treatment and death at the hands of relentless, vicious Warden O'Grady and Tug's inner struggle to accept his grandfather and express himself add potent elements to this story. With melodramatic flair, chapters spotlight the many different characters. The story includes pithy descriptions and dialogue that vividly reveals setting, plot, and characters while subtly disclosing the emotional turmoil of Tug, Bro, and Grampap. Although the somber references to Grampap's enraged destruction of his horses after his wife was killed by one of them, and to Bro's painful endurance of solitary confinement and prison torment are disturbing, readers will find wit, insight, compassion, and hope in this compelling tale.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nine-year-old Tugwell Dockery doesn't speak. People think it's because of the horrible train crash that killed his parents, but no, something he witnessed years ago made him mute. His older brother, Broda Joe Dockery, knows Tug is smart and knows he'll talk again someday, but Bro is in prison for another year, though plotting an escape. Told from several rapidly shifting, third-person points of view, the story races along. A corrupt prison warden, a prison break, a swamp full of deadly gators and snakes, and mysterious terrors in Tug's memory give the story a larger-than-life feel. The opening chapter is a model of sharp descriptive writing, and a later birthing scene is reminiscent of a famous episode in A Day No Pigs Would Die. Allusions to prison violence and a graphic scene out of Tug's memory make this a work for an older audience. (Fiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060529765
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Newton Peck is the author of more than sixty books, including Horse Thief, Cowboy ghost, and A Day No Pigs Would Die. According to Newsweek, Mr. Peck "manages to evoke a sense of vanished America — when neighbors were neighborly, when food was home-cooked, and clothes and philosophy homespun." Raised on a farm, he is familiar with cattle, hogs, and horses. He lives with his wife, Sam, in Longwood, Florida, where he and a partner currently own eleven mustangs.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2004

    A special tale

    In 1933 Clemson and Melba Dockery accompanied by their nine years old son Tugwell drives from Moultrie, Georgia to Yazoo City, Florida, to visit his father on his birthday. Clemson tries to outrace a speeding train, but fails leaving nine years old Tugwell Dockery as the only survivor. His older sibling, eighteen years old Broda ¿Bro¿ Joe is in jail for running alcohol. His paternal grandfather seems indifferent so his Great Aunt Lulu picks up the traumatized child, who no longer can speak.................................. However, circumstance lead to Tug going to his grandfather¿s house, which is near the place where his parents died. Bro worries about his younger devastated brother and does not believe his grandfather will care for Tug. Bro escapes from prison with the objective to insure that Tug gets the help he needs to overcome the tragedy.................................. BRO is a deep look at the Depression Era south that will leave the audience needing a bookcase worth of tissues. The cast tugs at the readers¿ hearts as each one struggle with what life has dealt them; Tug especially will receive much empathy. Though character driven, historical fiction readers will want to join the pack of new fans that this long time top notch author (see A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE) will garner..................... Harriet Klausner

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