THE BIG WANDER by Will Hobbs


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 Spurred on by the legendary status of his cowboy/prospector uncle Clay, and further inspired by James Stewart/John Wayne westerns, Clay Lancaster sets out to explore the Southwest's canyon country. Traveling at first in a rusty $100 pickup with his older brother Mike, then journeying solo with Pal, a burro, Clay searches for his uncle in the canyons of Arizona and Utah. Along the way, Pal gives birth, while Clay finds a stray dog, is given a pony by the Navajo, suffers an infatuation, and finds true love. Ultimately, he ``springs'' his uncle from the jail, where he's being held for rustling wild ponies from their fate at the meat-processing plant so that they won't become extinct. This oddball fantasy, set in 1962, has a winning hero but an idealized view of the Southwest of 30 years ago that may strike some as narrow. The ease and alacrity with which Clay finds jobs, friends, clues, transportation, pets, his uncle, and a girlfriend pass belief, and the burro's overlooked pregnancy is a reed-thin stretch. Still, there are real-life garnishes of the period (bomb shelters; teenagers reading Profiles in Courage); readers who loved Brighty of the Grand Canyon may grow up to appreciate this regional homage as well. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1992
ISBN: 0-689-31767-0
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992


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