Kirkus Star


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The author of The Loner (1963, 120, J-54), a 1963 runner-up for the Newbery Award, has created in fifteen year old Whitfield Rossmore Stewart III a believably imperfect teenager. A month after his parents are killed in a plane crash, Whit learns that his guardian, Uncle Mike, has ordered him to leave boarding school at midyears and head for his Arizona sheep ranch. Whit faces the rough-edged life and Australian ranchands (the ""rumpty doolers"") bitterly. He spends the first several weeks sulking in the farmhouse, looking down from a distance on Chihu, an Indian-Mexican of his age, Digger, a tough little Australian, Gasoon, the silent head shepherd, and others. His uncle forces him to rejudge the ranch workers by sending him on the long summer trek, guiding the sheep to faraway mountains. The journey is tiresome, harrowing, and at rare times gratifying. The author carves a sharp picture of the sheep and shepherds against the stark background. Whit grows some and returns to the ranch an lder, more broad-minded boy; his process of maturing is realistically slow, and presented by an author who seems to know exactly how much to say. Worthwhile reading for boys and girls.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1964
Publisher: Vanguard