Ghosts of Luckless Gulch
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Ghosts of Luckless Gulch

4.5 2
by Anne Isaacs, Dan Santat
     
 

Meet Estrella. She can run so fast that she burns up the air, leaving trails of flames wherever she goes.

Her pets — a Kickle Snifter, a Sidehill Wowser, and a Rubberado puppy — are as untamed as California, and the pride and love of Estrella's heart.

When the greedy ghosts of old gold miners steal her pets, Estrella will need every bit of her pluck

Overview

Meet Estrella. She can run so fast that she burns up the air, leaving trails of flames wherever she goes.

Her pets — a Kickle Snifter, a Sidehill Wowser, and a Rubberado puppy — are as untamed as California, and the pride and love of Estrella's heart.

When the greedy ghosts of old gold miners steal her pets, Estrella will need every bit of her pluck and nimble-footedness to rescue them from the ghosts of Luckless Gulch.

From the author of Swamp Angel and the artist who created The Replacements comes a tale as unpredictable as the California Gold Rush, as tall as a Redwood tree, and as surprising as a skunk selling perfume. Pull a chair up to the wood stove and get ready to laugh!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Once again Isaacs creates an indelible tall-tale heroine, even though the pairing here with Santat (The Secret Life of Walter Kitty) proves less than felicitous. Back in the days of the Gold Rush, plucky young Estrella Rivera is renowned for her sprinting skills ("she could run to the Pacific shore and back again" in a matter of minutes), her healing way with animals (including those that appear to be extraterrestrial) and her pluck. Those talents come in handy when phantom miners steal her beloved pets to work in horrible Dead Man Mine. As usual, Isaacs embellishes the story with heapin' helpings of tangents, details and folksiness; in previous books the idiosyncratic talents of Mark Teague (in Pancakes for Supper) and Paul O. Zelinsky (in Swamp Angel) provided Isaacs's quirky narratives with both visual ballast and momentum. While Santat's acrylic paintings are energetic and generously detailed, they feel far more literal, letting much of the humor escape and failing to quicken the pace. Ages 6-9. (Nov.)

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Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Estrella Rivera leaps into this original tall tale as a spunky heroine who runs so fast that she burns the air around her, leaving a trail of flames as she goes. By the time she reaches ten years of age, she has become a well known animal healer using her skills first with farm animals, then with wild animals, and eventually with three imaginary creatures who stay to become her pets. Kickle Snifter kicks everything in sight, landing all the iron cooking pots on the roof; Sidehill Wowser is a horse with downhill legs twice as long as uphill legs for climbing mountains; and Rubberado is a dog that bounces so high he appears to fly. When her pets disappear during the night, Estrella leaves to find them. The story wanders in many directions before she finds the animals in a cave where ghosts are mining for gold. Although the book is the size and shape of a picture book, it has forty-five pages, many filled with dense text. The colorful illustrations are appropriate and humorous, but the audience for the book is not clear. It is too wordy and the plot is too complicated for picture book audiences. Older readers will likely get lost in the many side stories that create distractions without contributing to the plot. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 2-5

Isaacs, who cleverly conjured up a fearless Tennessee woodswoman in Swamp Angel (Dutton, 1994), once again devises a tale of exaggeration and slapstick. The heroine this time is Estrella, a lightning-fast runner who is also a natural-born animal healer. She cares for three outlandish creatures: Kickle Snifter, a strong-as-an-elephant lamb; Sidehill Wowser, a horse look-alike with downhill legs twice the length of its uphill ones; and Comet, a bouncing Rubberado puppy. Incensed when they are stolen, Estrella tracks them north to California Gold Rush country, where an old miner, after sharing a tall tale or two, sends her on to Luckless Gulch. There, she discovers that treacherous ghosts have petrified everything in ice and are viciously using her pets to mine their gold. In a blast of ingenuity, Estrella races around the underground chamber "lighting the room with brilliant streaks of flame," ultimately scaring off the ghosts and saving her critters and the miners. A few too many plot strands crowd the text-heavy story, possibly confounding less-than-able readers. Nevertheless, the laugh-filled distortions on every page keep pace with this feisty heroine's laudable determination to make things right. Although at times Santat's images struggle with the text for space on the page, the illustrations, rendered in acrylic and ink and touched up in Adobe Photoshop, capture the story's spirit, and the ghosts are particularly, and delightfully, ghoulish.-Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416902010
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
11/25/2008
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
NC1020L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Anne Isaacs is the author of the 1994 Caldecott Honor-winning book Swamp Angel, the novel Torn Thread, and other highly acclaimed books for young readers. Ms. Isaacs makes her home in northern California, near her five grown children. To learn more about her and her books, go to www.anneisaacs.com.

Dan Santat is the creator of the cartoon series The Replacements, which can be seen on the Disney Channel and ABC Saturday mornings. He is the author and illustrator of The Guild of Geniuses, as well as the illustrator of The Secret Life of Walter Kitty and the Otto Undercover series. He lives in Alhambra, California, with his wife and son. To learn more about him, go to www.dantat.com

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Ghosts of Luckless Gulch 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
crazyladyteacher More than 1 year ago
This is a great story, filled with some fantastic lines and lots of creativity. There is much more a proficient reader will grasp from the story than a beginner. 
sarah_mae More than 1 year ago
A cute folktale that explains earthquakes, Redwood trees and hills in California.