Tucket's Gold (Francis Tucket Series #4)

Tucket's Gold (Francis Tucket Series #4)

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by Gary Paulsen

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Gary Paulsen's popular Western saga continues in the fourth novel about Francis Tucket.

Things look grim for Francis and his adopted family, Lottie and Billy. Without horses, water, or food, they're alone in a prairie wasteland, with the dreaded Comanchero outlaws in pursuit. Death can strike at any moment — but so can good fortune. When they stumble

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Gary Paulsen's popular Western saga continues in the fourth novel about Francis Tucket.

Things look grim for Francis and his adopted family, Lottie and Billy. Without horses, water, or food, they're alone in a prairie wasteland, with the dreaded Comanchero outlaws in pursuit. Death can strike at any moment — but so can good fortune. When they stumble upon an ancient treasure, it takes teamwork, courage, and wit to hold on to it. By sticking together, Francis and his family wind up rich beyond their wildest dreams, and ready to head west to find Francis's parents on the Oregon Trail.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The invigorating story is just right for readers who like their action at a gallop." — Kirkus Reviews

Praise for the Tucket Adventures series:
"Many readers will love these books for their exciting, nonstop action." — School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Laura Hummel
Francis Tucket, a gritty fourteen-year-old, and his two young charges have just escaped from a dangerous band of outlaws in this fourth book in a series by the prolific Paulsen. Francis has been facing many perils during his journey to try to rejoin his family on the Oregon Trail and the action is non-stop. Fortunately, Tucket was taught survival skills in earlier episodes by Mr. Grimes, a one-armed mountain man. These skills serve him well on the escape and quest to obtain food and water. The children manage to bring down a deer in order to satiate their hunger and utilize the hide to fashion much need moccasins and clothing. Their luck changes when they stumble upon an unexpected find and are later helped by friendly pueblo dwellers when Tucket has a near fatal incident. The book is compelling and adventure packed right to the finish! Young readers will enjoy the fast pace and the novel would be suitable for a social studies program.
To quote KLIATT's Nov. 1999 review of the hardcover edition: As the latest installment of Francis Tucker's adventures opens, the fifteen-year-old is hiking across a vast western plain accompanied by the two children he had found in an abandoned wagon, Lottie and Billy. They have no food or water—and they can only hope they have managed to shake the ruthless Comanchero outlaws off their trail. The action never lags in this exciting tale: in short order, the three stumble across treasure, capture packhorses, Francis gets bitten by a rattler, and they find shelter in a beautiful Indian village high atop a butte. Francis still wants to find his family, however, so they head out west for the Oregon Trail. When Francis' old enemies Courtweiler and Dubs come across him and try to steal their gold, Billy's fine archery, learned from the Indians, helps save the day. Full of details of wilderness survival (how to make moccasins, for example), this brief and thrilling tale will please Tucker's fans. For those who haven't read the previous volumes, enough is summarized here so that they can dive right in. A good choice for reluctant readers. (Book Four of the Tucket Adventures) KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1999, Random House/Dell Yearling, 102p, map, 20cm, $4.50. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
Kirkus Reviews
The fourth installment of Paulsen's Tucket Adventures (Tucket's Ride, 1997, etc.) is instantly involving, with plotting that rockets along. Francis Tucket, 15, and his two young charges, the talkative Lottie and her little brother, Billy, are on the run, one step ahead of the ruthless Comancheros, "the dirt-meanest men Francis had ever seen in a world full of mean men." The children are valuable commodities on the frontier, easily "sold or traded into slavery." As the youngsters flee, they battle the elements, find a treasure, meet up with a tribe of friendly Pueblo Indians, and are captured by a pair of pitiless thieves. The book is bursting with clearly limned, colorful characters and despite his lightning pace, Paulsen finds time for softer moments as well. Francis, for example, who hasn't seen his kin since he was stolen by the Pawnee, realizes that he loves Lottie and Billy, and that they "were more of a family to him than the one he'd lost." This invigorating story is just right for readers who like their action at a gallop. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Francis Tucket Series, #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

If there was one thing Francis Tucket knew with certainty it was that death, brutal death, was close to taking them.

Dawn was coming and here he was, a fifteen-year-old boy in charge of two children, walking across a sunbeaten, airless plain that seemed to be endless. Francis, Lottie and Billy had no food or water or any immediate hope of getting any, and at any moment a dozen or two of the dirt-meanest men Francis had ever seen in a world full of mean men could come riding up on them and . . .

He didn't finish the thought. There was no need. Besides, in surviving Indian fights, blizzards, gun battles and thieves, he had learned the primary rule about danger. It would come if it would come. You could try to be ready for it, you could plan on it, you could even expect it, but it would come when it wanted to come.

Lottie and Billy understood this rule too. He had found them sitting in a wagon on the prairie all alone. Their father had died of cholera and their wagon train had abandoned the family, afraid of disease. Lottie had been nine then, Billy six. Francis hadn't thought he and the children would stay together long—after all, he had to keep searching for his own family. He'd been separated from them over a year before, when Pawnees had kidnapped him from the wagon train on the Oregon Trail. But Francis and Lottie and Billy—well, they were used to each other. They stuck together. Unlike Francis and Jason Grimes, the one-armed mountain man.

Jason Grimes had rescued Francis from the Pawnees and taught him how to survive in the West on his own. Then they'd parted ways.

Until last night. Last night when Grimes had helped them to escape from the Comancheros. The Comancheros were an outlaw band, ruthless, terrifying, inhumanly tough. To escape, Grimes had had to take the packhorses Francis and Lottie and Billy had been riding and lead them off empty, hoping the Comancheros would follow his tracks westward while the three children headed north on foot in the dark of night.

It was a decent plan—it was their only plan—and it seemed to be working. As Francis and the two children had moved north in the dark, they had seen the Comancheros ride past them after Mr. Grimes, tracking the horses. The Comancheros had missed the footprints of the children, partly because it was hard to see them and partly because Francis made Lottie and Billy walk in each other's footprints. He came last, brushing out the trail with a piece of mesquite behind him.

But luck was the major factor in the plan. If the Comancheros caught Grimes or even got within sight of him they'd know that Francis and the children weren't with him. They'd turn and come back for the children. Children meant real money because they could be sold or traded into slavery.

Francis knew that brushing out the tracks would only work in the pitch dark of night. In daylight the brush marks themselves would be easy to follow.

"I'm tired." Billy stopped suddenly. "I think we've gone far enough."

Francis frowned. When Francis had first met Billy, the boy wouldn't say a word. And now he'd gone from never talking at all to complaining.

"If they catch us"—Lottie slapped Billy's head so hard Francis thought he heard the boy's brains rattle—"they'll skin you. They'll make a tobacco pouch out of you and let the coyotes have the rest. Now keep walking. If we don't keep moving they'll be on us like dogs, won't they, Francis? On us just like dogs . . ."

Lottie loved to talk, would talk all the time if she had the chance, seemed to have been talking since Francis had found her in that wagon. Lottie would explain every little detail of every little part of every little thing she was talking about so that not a single aspect of it was missed, and she sometimes drove Francis over the edge. Now, as Billy started moving again, Francis picked up the pace, pushed them as hard as they could stand it and then harder, and Lottie didn't have breath left to speak.

Dawn brought the sun and the sun brought heat. Francis and the children were bareheaded and the sun quickly went to work on them. Billy wanted to complain, especially as the morning progressed and there was no water and the sun rose higher and became hotter, but Francis drove them until Billy began to weave. Then Francis handed Lottie his rifle and, pushing her in front of him, he picked Billy up and carried him piggyback, mile after mile, then yard after yard, and finally, step after step.

Lottie saw it first.

"There," she said. "See the spot?"

Francis was near dead with exhaustion. He had hardly slept at all for the two nights before and had been used roughly by the Comancheros in the bargain. He was close to the breaking point as he said, "What spot?"

"There. No, more to the right. On the horizon. It's trees. I'm sure of it. A stand of trees."

They had seen many mirages—images of trees and water that were not there. But Francis looked where she was pointing and saw it instantly. He stopped and set Billy down. The boy was asleep, and he collapsed in a heap, still sleeping. "You're right! Trees. And trees mean water."

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Meet the Author

Gary Paulsen is the author of more than 100 books and the winner of numerous honors, including the Golden Spur Award for Best Young Adult Western.

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