To his family and friends, 11 year old David Gale was known as Cricket, a nickname he deplored and despised. Only by indulging in wild fantasies of grandeur -- a la Walter Mitty - could David compensate for the name and the physique which gave rise to it. When the Gales decide to join the Daniels on a cross country trek from Wisconsin to Oregon, David discovers a more substantial antidote to ""Cricket"" than the stuff from which dreams are made. The year was 1850, the mode of travel, covered wagon. Forced to contend with the hardships of prairie winters, stampedes and Indians, expected to meet the challenge of his rough and ready ""blood brother"" Tom Daniels, David soon proves his courage and stamina. The gap separating fantasy from reality steadily narrows until David asserts (in retrospect) that the entire jaunt was ""one long picnic"". Boyish humor and the excitement of pioneer life combine with authentic characterization to offer boy readers a satisfying run for their money.