Unlike other books by this prolific and often outstanding author, most of which have stressed intense adventure, this one is mainly descriptive and casual in tone. The setting is rugged, a sparsely populated bit of Texas dominated by a thickly over-grown bit of jungle ignored by civilization. Practically nobody lived there-- just Jody and his uncle, who carved curios from pieces of desert wood. Then there came Bart Clovis with his family determined to make a settlement in the unpromising land; and two unsavory men, Mike and Jake, who were eager to capture the wild animals for their bounty price. The characters are remarkably passive even in response to potentially threatening events-- Jody captures two baby ocelots, Bart issues warnings about the pets and opposes his son's interest in learning to carve, Mike and Jake steal an old horse to use as bait, Bart diverts the creek Jody's uncle depended on for his subsistence farm--all of which resolve themselves with time. It's a realistic view of contemporary pioneering, but low in vitality.