Riley and his younger brother investigate the smoke coming from a deserted canyon--and find moonshiners on their property. Things get even stranger when Riley discovers a sack of gold hidden in the coal stove at his schoolhouse!
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John R. Erickson, one of America's best-known working cowboys, wrote the foreword to The Cowboy at Work.From School Library Journal:
Gr 5-9-A mystery/adventure novel set in the Texas Panhandle in the mid-1920s. Fourteen-year-old Riley McDaniels's father has just died, and he and his mother struggle to keep their ranch going, a ranch that they rent from his mother's aunt. Riding home from school one afternoon, the teen and his brother discover that moonshiners have built a still in a nearby deserted canyon on their property and are making whiskey. Unfortunately, the family also discovers that local lawmen are either in cahoots with the bandits or are too scared to help. When the McDanielses receive an eviction notice, Riley, his mother, grandpa, and younger brother travel to the wild town of Sparrow to confront their Aunt Mattie. Sparrow is a lawless oil boomtown with corrupt officials who allow outlaws to control it. Riley's family meets Aaron, one of the leaders of a small group of citizens who are trying to rid the town of corruption, and discover that Aunt Mattie is being poisoned by the town doctor and forced to sign documents by one of her dead husband's friends. In a series of surprising twists and turns, Riley helps to save his aunt, Aaron, a Texas Ranger, and the ranch. While the plot is somewhat improbable, the story is well developed and exciting. With its historical basis and accuracy, and its strong, though perhaps somewhat stereotypical characters, the novel rings true in its portrayal of an exciting era in a setting that is usually ignored.
Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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