At 12, Wilder Good is off to bag his first elk with hunting partner Gale Loving, a friend and mentor, in this straightforwardly simple recounting of their day in the Colorado foothills.
While the two bantering partners are used to each other and have hunted a lot together, it’s also clear that Gale, who is in his 70s and a member of the church, is in charge. Wilder is the amateur, though he’s working hard on his skills. “The way to learn…, Wilder had observed, was to charge in and figure it out as he went. Mistakes would be forgiven; cowardice was not.” Obviously, he needs to do more than just learn how to use his grandfather’s handed-down Winchester rifle—he needs to understand all the nuances of preparation and behavior during the hunt. Given the dearth of material on the topic and the readability of the text, this slim novel will be appreciated in those rural communities where hunting is a big deal. The focus is on action, not social or emotional depth: Wilder’s mother’s breast cancer is merely mentioned, as is Wilder’s attraction to a girl.
For kids who’d rather be out stalking prey than reading about it. (Fiction. 8-12)