UNCLE DANEY'S WAY by Jessie Haas


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 Since Mom's Uncle Daney--in a wheelchair since a logging accident--has no one else, Cole's family takes him in even though their own finances are tight: They've just bought the Vermont farmland their modest trailer occupies. There's a barn on the property; heat and plumbing make a stall into a room of which even the visiting nurse approves. Uncle Daney's old workhorse, Nip, is a bigger problem: There's no money for hay and the land is overgrown with juniper bushes. Still, though quirky and penniless, Daney has a ``way'' with him; he teaches Cole to harness Nip and, in believable steps, uproot the junipers--a monumental labor that suits Cole, who loves real work. The newly planted grass won't make enough hay for next winter; but that's provided after the two take Nip to a country fair where his precise responses to verbal commands win the boy a prize and a chance for Uncle Daney to earn Nip's keep. Skillfully, Haas builds her two main characters as they cooperate in facing situations new to both. Without self-pity, Daney simply ignores the possibility of giving up, using both his native ingenuity and his ability to manipulate others (it is, after all, Cole who's doing the work as Daney directs). Cole, a shy loner at his new school, throws himself wholeheartedly into keeping Daney and Nip together; in the end, he also earns a classmate's respect for his new skill in handling the big horse. A richly satisfying story of ordinary people doing some extraordinary problem solving. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12794-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994


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