Western Adventure (Sugar Creek Gang Series #22)

( 12 )


Hanging the imaginary horse thief Snaterpazooka in the Sugar Creek Hills leads to a real-life shoot-out in Western Adventure.  The adventure includes an out-of-control campfire, a horse-killing thunderstorm, and a runaway boat.  As Bill Collins faces trouble with Tom Till, he remembers the sermon about ruling your spirit and being slow to anger.  Learn with Bill the importance of choosing the proper boss.

The Sugar Creek Gang series chronicles the faith-building ...

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Western Adventure (Sugar Creek Gang Series #22)

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Hanging the imaginary horse thief Snaterpazooka in the Sugar Creek Hills leads to a real-life shoot-out in Western Adventure.  The adventure includes an out-of-control campfire, a horse-killing thunderstorm, and a runaway boat.  As Bill Collins faces trouble with Tom Till, he remembers the sermon about ruling your spirit and being slow to anger.  Learn with Bill the importance of choosing the proper boss.

The Sugar Creek Gang series chronicles the faith-building adventures of a group of fun-loving, courageous Christian boys.  These classic stories have been inspiring children to grow in their faith for more than five decades.  More than three million copies later, children continue to grow up relating to members of the gang as they struggle with the application of their Christian faith to the adventure of life.

Now that these stories have been updated for a new generation, you and your child can join in the Sugar Creek excitement.

Paul Hutchens's memories of childhood adventures around the fishing hole, the swimming hole, the island, and the woods that surround Indiana's Sugar Creek inspired these beloved tales.  

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802470263
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Sugar Creek Gang Series, #22
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 125
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

The late PAUL HUTCHENS, one of evangelical Christianity's most prolific authors, went to be with the Lord on January 23, 1977. Mr. Hutchens, an ordained Baptist minister, served as an evangelist and itinerant preacher for many years. Best known for his Sugar Creek Gang series, Hutchens was a 1927 graduate of Moody Bible Institute. He was the author of 19 adult novels, 36 books in the Sugar Creek Gang series, and several booklets for servicemen during World War II. Mr. Hutchens and his wife, Jane, were married 52 years. They had two children and four grandchildren.
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Read an Excerpt

Sugar Creek Gang 22 Western Adventure

By Paul Hutchens

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 1998 Pauline Hutchens Wilson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-756-9


We were in the middle of the most exciting part of a pretend cowboys' necktie party when we heard the shot.

It was one of the loudest shotgun blasts I had ever heard, and its echoes were like four or five fast thunders bounding through the Sugar Creek hills.

What on earth! I thought.

We all stood still and stared at each other with startled faces. We had been running in one direction and looking back in the opposite direction toward the old scarecrow that we had used for our bad man in our game of cowboys' necktie party.

We had strung up the scarecrow by his neck, hanging him from the branch of a river birch about twenty yards from the sandy beach of our swimming hole.

The ridiculous-looking old dummy we had named Snatzerpazooka was just where we wanted him now, at the edge of Dragonfly's father's cornfield. Hanging there in plain sight, swaying in the breeze, he would scare away the crows that had been digging up the new corn sprouts. Dragonfly, as you maybe know, was the nickname we had given to the pop-eyed member of the gang, whose actual name was Roy Gilbert.

The very minute Snatzerpazooka was up and swinging, we started on a helter-skelter run along the creek toward the spring. Following what we knew to be the pattern of cowboys in the Old West after a lynching, which they called a "necktie party," we were all galloping away on our imaginary horses, looking back and shooting with our voices, using our plastic and metal and wooden toy guns, yelling, "Bang ... bang ... bang ... bang-bang-bang!"

I was seeing Snatzerpazooka over my shoulder, his ragged blue-and-white-striped overalls, his tied-on black hat, his crossbar. At the same time, I was galloping on my imaginary white stallion behind barrel-shaped Poetry, who was riding his own imaginary ordinary-looking roan horse.

The early summer wind was blowing in my hot face, my sleeves were flapping, and it felt good to be alive in a wonderful boys' world.

The rest of the gang were on their own different colored imaginary horses, yelling, "Bang! Bang! Bang!" as I was. All of us were emptying our imaginary six-shooters at the grotesque scarecrow dangling by his neck in the afternoon sun.

Right in the middle of our excitement was when we heard the actual shot from somebody's actual gun! It was an explosive blast that sent a shower of shivers all over me and scared me half to death.

As I've already told you, we all stopped and stared at each other, but not for long. Big Jim, our leader, barked, "Quick! Down! Drop flat—all of you!"

By all of us, he meant not only mischievous-minded, squawky-voiced Poetry; spindle-legged, pop-eyed Dragonfly; and red-haired, fiery-tempered, freckle-faced me, Bill Collins, son of Theodore Collins; but also Circus, our acrobat, and Little Jim, the littlest one of us and the best Christian.

In case you might be wondering why Little Tom Till wasn't with us on our necktie party, maybe I'd better tell you that all that spring and early summer, he had been chumming around with a new boy who had moved into the neighborhood. That new boy was our enemy—and it wasn't our fault, either. It hadn't felt good to lose Tom out of the gang—even though he wasn't exactly a member but only played with us and got to go with us on different camping trips.

Well, when Big Jim barked that fierce order for us to "drop flat," we obeyed like six boy-shaped lumps of lead—all of us except Poetry, who could only drop round.

Who, I wondered, had fired an actual gun? A shotgun!

We lay as quiet as six scared mice, straining our eyes to see through the sedge and ragweed and wild rosebushes and other growth, listening for all we were worth, and wondering, and worrying a little.

It certainly was a tense time. I could hear my heart beating, also the rippling riffle in the creek several feet behind me. Farther up the creek in the direction of our just-hung Snatzerpazooka, a saw-voiced crow was signaling with a rasping "Caw! Caw!" to his crow friends to stay away from the cornfield because there was a man around with a shotgun.

The smell of sweet clover from across the creek mingled with the odor of gun smoke.

Just then Dragonfly said wheezily, "Look! Snatzerpazooka's gone! He's down! His rope's broke!"

"He can't be!" I answered. "That was a leftover piece of Mom's clothesline, and that old scarecrow wasn't heavy enough to break it!"

A second later, though, my straining eyes told me Dragonfly was right. Even as far away as we were, I could see about five feet of rope dangling from the birch branch, and there wasn't any scarecrow hanging by his neck on the end of it.

"Maybe the knot came untied," Circus suggested.

Big Jim, beside and a little behind me, was peering over the top of a pile of drift left early that spring when Sugar Creek had overflowed its banks. He answered Circus, saying, "It couldn't have. I used a bowline knot, and that kind can't slip or jam!"

"It might have slipped off over his head," Circus growled back, maybe not wanting his idea squelched.

"If it had," Big Jim said deep in his throat, "the noose would still be there on the end of the rope"—which made good sense, because there was only the five feet of rope dangling in the breeze and no noose at the end.

Who, I worried, had shot the shot and why? And where was our scarecrow?

How long we all lay there whispering and wondering and trying to imagine who had shot the shot and why and what at, I don't know, but it seemed too long before Big Jim would let us get up and follow him back to the river birch to look around.

While you are imagining us crouching and half crawling our way along the edge of the cornfield that bordered the creek, like scouts scouting an enemy camp, wondering with us who had shot the shot and why and what or who at, I'd better also explain what a cowboys' necktie party is and why we had given our scarecrow such a name.

It was Dragonfly himself who had named him. Why he named him that was because of the strangest story you ever heard, the oddest thing that ever happened around Sugar Creek or maybe anyplace in the whole world.

You see, when Dragonfly was just a little guy, only about three-and-a-half years old—before there was any Sugar Creek Gang—he had no sisters or brothers and was lonesome most of the time. So he created a playmate out of his own imagination.

I never will forget the first time I heard the name Snatzerpazooka and how excited little Dragonfly was, how he yelled and cried, in fact actually screamed, when he thought his imaginary playmate wasn't going to get to go along with him and his folks when they went to town. It happened like this:

Dragonfly's parents with their little spindle-legged pop-eyed son, had stopped their car in front of our house beside the mailbox that has "Theodore Collins," my father's name, on it. While Mom and Dad stood in the shade of the walnut tree and visited with them through the car window, Dragonfly and I monkeyed around the iron pitcher pump, which is not far from our back door.

Feeling mischievous at the time, I thrust my hand into the stream of water Dragonfly was pumping into the iron kettle there, and, just as quick, flicked some of the water into his face.

A second later, he started to gasp and to wrinkle up his nose and the rest of his face. He looked toward the sun and let out a long-tailed sneeze, then said, "Snatzerpazooka!"

"Stop that! Don't sneeze like that!" he cried.

"I didn't sneeze," I answered him. "You did!"

"I did not!" he argued back. "He did!"

"He who did?" I asked.

That's when he used the word in his normal voice, saying, "Snatzerpazooka did!"

I looked at his dragon fly like eyes, which had a strange expression in them. "Who in the world is Snatzerpazooka?" I exclaimed. I was pumping a tin of water at the time. I tossed the water over the iron kettle into the puddle on the ground there, scaring a flock of yellow and white butterflies out of their butterfly wits and scattering them in about seventeen different directions.

Dragonfly started to answer, got a mussed-up expression on his face, and let out another noisy, explosive sneeze with Snatzerpazooka mixed up in it.

His father called then from the car, saying, "Hurry up, Roy! We have to get there before two o'clock!"

"Just a minute!" Dragonfly yelled toward his father. Then he did the weirdest thing. He looked around in a circle and swung into a fast run out across the grassy yard, dodging this way and that like a boy trying to catch a young rooster his folks are going to have for dinner.

"Stop, you little rascal!" Dragonfly kept yelling. "Stop, or I'll leave you here!"

Then Dragonfly's father's deep voice thundered over Mom and Dad's heads toward his zigzagging son, now near the plum tree. "Roy! Stop running around like a chicken with its head off, or we'll drive on without you!"

Dragonfly stopped, and a minute later he was on his way to the gate. He was a little slow getting through it—over it, rather, because he was trying to do what Dad had ordered me never to do. He was climbing up the gate's cross wires to climb over the gate, when all he would have had to do would have been to lift the latch and walk through.

The minute Dragonfly was on the ground, he reached back and up with both arms, as if he was reaching for something or somebody, and I heard him say scoldingly, "Come on! Jump! I'll catch you!"

"Roy Gilbert!" Dragonfly's father growled again gruffly. "Hurry up!"

"I can't," Dragonfly whined back. "I can't get him to get off the gate! He's stubborn and won't do what I tell him!" Dragonfly kept on not hurrying and not getting into the car's open backdoor, which I could see his impatient father was wanting him to hurry up and do.

A second later Mr. Gilbert's temper came to life, and he was out of the front seat in a hurry. He scooped up his son in his strong arms, carried him struggling to the car, half-tossed him into the backseat, slammed the door after him, and quickly got into the front seat again beside Dragonfly's worried-faced mother.

The car engine ground itself into noisy life. In a minute the Gilbert family would go speeding down the road, stirring up a cloud of white dust that would ride on the afternoon breeze across the field toward Strawberry Hill.

That's when Dragonfly let out a yell with tears in it, crying, "Wait! Don't go yet! He's still back there on the gate!"

Next, that little rascal shoved open the car door, swung himself out, scooted to the fence, helped his imaginary playmate off onto the ground, shoved him into the backseat, and climbed in after him.

What, I thought, on earth!

As soon as the Gilberts' car was gone and the lazy cloud of dust was already on its way across the field, I heard Mom say to Dad, "At least our boy isn't as bad as that! Whatever is wrong with Roy, anyway?"

"Nothing's wrong with him," Dad answered. "He's just a normal boy who needs a little brother or sister to play with. Not having any, he has created one out of his own lively imagination."

Hearing Mom and Dad say that to each other while they were still on the other side of the gate, I broke in with a mischievous grin in my voice, saying, "I don't have any brothers or sisters, either."

That was before my little sister, Charlotte Ann, was born, which you know all about if you've read the very first Sugar Creek Gang story there ever was—the one that is called The Swamp Robber.

I had my right foot on one of the cross wires of the gate as if I was going to climb up and over.

Dad gave me a half-savage stare through the woven wire and, with a set jaw, exclaimed an order to me, which was, "Don't you dare! And we have enough trouble keeping you out of mischief! What would we do with another one of you?"

For some reason my foot slipped off the cross wire, and I was quickly off to the big rope swing under the walnut tree to pump myself into a high back-and-forth swing. I was wishing at the same time that I did have a little brother to play with. I was also wondering what if I made for myself an imaginary playmate? What would he look like, and what would I name him? What a crazy name—Snatzerpazooka!

And what a lot of crazy experiences we had that summer with Dragonfly himself.

Dragonfly's parents worried about their boy for a while—what with his all the time talking to his ridiculous playmate, acting all the time as if there were two of him, having fights and arguments with a person nobody except Dragonfly could see or hear. That boy certainly had a "vivid imagination," Mom said one day.

In fact, his parents got to worrying about him so much that they took him to a doctor in the city, a special kind of doctor who understood children's minds. They found out it was almost the same as what Dad had already told Mom.

"There's nothing wrong with him that having a pet or a real-life playmate won't cure. Snatzerpazooka will just fade out of the picture after your boy starts to school or when he begins normal boy-life activities," the doctor told them.

But Snatzerpazooka didn't fade out. Dragonfly was so used to him and had so much fun playing with his imaginary playmate that even after he began going to school, and after the Sugar Creek Gang was started, he still hung onto him.

Many a time when we were down along the creek somewhere or up at the abandoned cemetery having a gang meeting and something important was brought to a vote, Dragonfly would make us let Snatzerpazooka vote, too.

Poetry worked harder than the rest of us trying to help Dragonfly forget his imaginary playmate. He refused to call him Snatzerpazooka but gave him the name Shadow instead. The two had an honest-to-goodness fight about it one day down at the spring. We had all finished getting down on our knees and drinking out of the reservoir the way cows do—that is, all of us had our drink except Dragonfly.

He stood back near the board fence, waiting till we were through. Poetry, being in a mischievous mood, and still on his hands and knees at the reservoir, looked back toward Dragonfly and said, "Here, Shadow, come get your drink!" He then went through the motions of helping Dragonfly's imaginary playmate onto his hands and knees, bent his head forward and down to the surface of the water, saying, "You're a pretty dumb little bunny. Don't you know how to drink like a cow? You look like one! Get your head down!"

Then Poetry gave Shadow's imaginary head a shove clear down under the water, his own right hand going under with it.

In seconds, Dragonfly was like a young tiger. He leaped forward and down onto Poetry's back and started whamming him with both fists, demanding, "You stop dunking him!"

Poetry stopped all right. He was bowled over by Dragonfly's flying attack and a split second later was on his stomach in the almost icy water. He came up sputtering and spitting water. Reaching behind him, he caught Snatzerpazooka's live playmate by both his slender arms and ducked his head under as far as he had Snatzerpazooka's imaginary head.

Big Jim came to the rescue of both of them by stopping the fight and saying, "Come on, Snatzerpazooka! You come on up into the sunlight with me and get dried out. You'll catch your death of cold." With that he went through the motions of picking up the imaginary little boy and carrying him up the incline. Dragonfly himself hurried along after them.

By the time I got there, our spindle-legged pal was as far as the stump we later named the Black Widow Stump and on his way toward home. He had his right hand out behind him as though he was leading somebody, and I heard him say, "Come on, pal! Those roughnecks don't know how to treat a gentleman!"

No sooner had Dragonfly and his just-dunked imaginary playmate disappeared over the rim of the hill than Poetry started quoting one of the many poems he had memorized. It was one most of us knew by heart ourselves. It was by Robert Louis Stevenson, and in Poetry's squawky, ducklike voice it sounded almost funny:

    "I have a little shadow that goes in and
    out with me,
    And what can be the use of him is
    more than I can see.
    He is so very, very like me from the
    heels up to the head,
    And I see him jump before me, when I
    jump into my bed."


Excerpted from Sugar Creek Gang 22 Western Adventure by Paul Hutchens. Copyright © 1998 Pauline Hutchens Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Love it

    I love this is fire fly in here
    Ps. It is the charicter

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2011


    Yep I knew that. And I'm sorry? I thought you were looking for him... Sorry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2011

    Hawktail to Prettyheart

    Are you looking for Blazemoon? I think he's from Silverstar's crew.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2011

    Sweetleaf to Sparkfoot

    REALLY??? O: PUMAFANG LOVES YOU TOO!!! Pumafang: That's why we are MATES! *facepalm* Sweetleaf: Ohhh... oops. I'M HIS SISTER!!! :D :D :D *waves excitedly* Brackenscratch: Haha! Thanks for not doing that to Spiderweb. Serpentfang: LOL! My sisters are normal. Honeysong: Brookheart isn't. Morningpaw: Yes, she is! Serpentfang: We get it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    May i join

    Can i join this clan? Lol, name is rangercat

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011


    Who got new mates? Harefoot: Wait are you talking to me? Stormtalon: :I Willowlock: Okay, fine, use my account without asking! Sandyfeather: IKR! Petalflight: Well I forgot my password... Calmwater says hi to Falconscreech. Calmwater: No she doesn't Petalflight: in her mind she does. Calmwater: NO SHE DOESNT!!! Petalflight: Don't you argue with me! Calmwater: :P But she doesnt! i mean i doesnt! i mean i dont! Petalflight: you stutter you do to! SHE SAYS HI AND THAT SHE MISSED HIM SOOOOOO MUCH AND THAT SHE LO- Calmwater: YOU- Crescentwing: Umm... well, they are killing each other right now... Umm... Pepperstone: Someone say hi to Dogwood please :) Sandyfeather: Has anyone seen Nightfrost? My- nevermind.

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  • Posted December 12, 2011


    The computer isn't working very well... We can only post once per account sooo... I'm using up Checkerfern's... Where is she? Where are the kits? Don't tell me she left. Ratwhisker and Scratchscar would like to be updated on their mates too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    Raincloud to Silverwing

    *Hissing* What are we going to do about these territory thieves?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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