Old Yeller

Old Yeller

4.4 429
by Fred Gipson
     
 

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At first, Travis couldn't stand the sight of Old Yeller

The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene.

Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis's

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Overview

At first, Travis couldn't stand the sight of Old Yeller

The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene.

Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis's family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Sunday Tribune
Occasionally, but very rarely, one reads a book with the increasing certainty, as one turns the pages, that a classic is unfolding before one's eyes.
Saturday Review of Literature
A bestseller for generations, the combination of excellent writing and the sensitivity to human emotions places it on a shelf with the classics in juvenile literature.
Children's Literature
This novel is one of the classics of juvenile fiction. Set in the mid-1800s on the Texas frontier, young Travis must become the man of the house when his father heads north on a cattle drive. This is Travis's chance to prove how grown up and responsible he is, and he is up for the challenge. But a stray dog with a chewed off ear and boisterous personality adopts Travis's family and, at first, Travis thinks this dog is going to be nothing but trouble. The dog steals the family's meat and is no replacement for the dog Travis had when he was younger. But Arliss, Travis's younger brother, falls in love with the stray and they keep him for Arliss's sake, naming the dog Old Yeller, both for the color of his coat and the way he howls. Travis comes to find that Old Yeller is not only a smart and loyal dog, but also adamantly protective of the family. Old Yeller helps save the family numerous times from dangerous encounters with bears and wild hogs and proves to be the best hunting partner and work hand Travis could have hoped for. But when an outbreak of hydrophobia hits the settlement, Old Yeller's heroics put him in danger and Travis is faced with a very difficult decision. This is a story that is both moving and humorous, and familiarizes readers with what it was like to live in this time and place. 2004 (orig. 1956), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Jennifer Chambliss

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061962868
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/18/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
29,331
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

We called him Old Yeller. The name had a sort of double meaning. One part meant that his short hair was a dingy yellow, a color that we called "yeller" in those days, The other meant that when he opened his head, the sound he let out came closer to being a yell than a bark.

I remember like yesterday how he strayed in out of nowhere to our log cabin on Birdsong Creek. He made me so mad at first that I wanted to kill him. Then, later, when I had to kill him, it was like having to shoot some of my own folks. That's how much I'd come to think of the big yeller dog.

He came in the late 1860's, the best I remember. Anyhow, it was the year that Papa and a bunch of other Salt Licks settlers formed a "pool herd" of their little separate bunches of steers and trailed them to the new cattle market at Abilene, Kansas.

This was to get "cash money," a thing that all Texans were short of in those years right after the Civil War. We lived then in a new country and a good one. As Papa pointed out the day the men talked over making the drive, we had plenty of grass, wood, and water. We bad wild game for the killing, fertile ground for growing bread corn, and the Indians had been put onto reservations with the return of U.S. soldiers to the Texas forts.

"In fact," Papa wound up, "all we lack having a tight tail-bolt on the world is a little cash money. And we can get that at Abilene."

Well, the idea sounded good, but some of the men still hesitated. Abilene was better than six hundred miles north of the Texas bill country we lived in. It would take months for the men to make the drive and ride back home. And all that time the womenfolks andchildren of Salt Licks would be left in a wild frontier settlement to make out the best they could.

Still, they needed money, and they realized that whatever a man does, he's bound to take some risks. So theytalked it over with each other and with their women and decided it was the thing to do. They told their folks what to do in case the Indians came off the reservation or the coons got to eating the corn or the !)cars got to killing too many hogs. Then they gathered their cattle, burned a trail brand on their hips, and pulled out on the long trail to Kansas.

I remember how it was the day Papa left. I remember his standing in front of the cabin with his horse saddled, his gun in his scabbard, and his bedroll tied on back of the cantle. I remember how tall and straight and handsome he looked, with his high-crowned hat and his black mustaches drooping in cow-horn curves past the corners of his mouth. And I remember how Mama was trying to keep from crying because he was leaving and how Little Arliss, who was only five and didn't know much, wasn't trying to keep from crying at all In fact, 'he xas howling his head off; not because Papa was leaving, but because he couldn't go, too.

I wasn't about to cry. I was fourteen years old, pretty near a grown man. I stood back and didn't let on for a minute that I wanted to cry.

Papa got through loving up Mama and Little Arliss and mounted his horse. I looked up at him. He motioned for me to come along. So I walked beside his horse down the trail that led under the big liveoaks and past the spring.

When he'd gotten out of hearing of the house, Papa reached down and put a hand on my shoulder.

"Now, Travis," he said, "you're getting to be a big boy; and while I'm gone, you'll be the man of the family, I want you to act like one. You take care of Mama and Little Arliss. You look after the work and don't wait around for your mama to point out what needs to be done. Think you can do that?"

"Yessir," I said.

"Now, there's the cows to milk and wood to cut and young pigs to mark and fresh meat to shoot. But mainly there's the corn patch. If you don't work it right or if you let the varmints eat up the roasting ears, we'll be without bread corn for the winter."

"Yessir," I said.

"All right, boy. I'll be seeing you this fall."

I stood there and let him ride on. There wasn't any more to say.

Suddenly I remembered and went running down the trail after him, calling for him to wait.

He pulled up his horse and twisted around in the saddle. "Yeah, boy," he said. "What is it?"

"That horse," I said.

"What horse?" he said, like he'd never heard me mention it before. "You mean you're wanting a horse?"

"Now, Papa," I complained. "You know I've been aching all over for a horse to ride. I've told you time and again."

I looked up to catch him grinning at me and felt foolish that I hadn't realized he was teasing.

"What you're needing worse than a horse is a good dog."

"Yessir," I said, "but a horse is what I'm wanting the worst...

Old Yeller. Copyright © by Fred Gipson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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