A tale of mysterious disappearances and a long lost gold mine…
Howie Alden is tired of being told he’s a little too young, a little too short, just a “little too” everything to help his father out around their sheep ranch. And he’s tired of being called “Sonny Bumps” by the other boys who aren’t a “little too”. So when prospector, Bootjack Connor, offers Howie to ride along on a little trip, he is ecstatic to gain his parents’ permission and head off into the desert.
Bootjack has a hunch he knows where a stack of gold is – and the location is tied up with the disappearance of Prince Jack’s mine up near Dolson Creek. Will Bootjack and Howie find the mine? Will they strike it rich?
Howie is a young boy who is struggling to find his place on his father’s ranch. He is frustrated by the fact that although he has the strength, willingness, and ability to work different jobs with his father, he is not allowed to do so because his father believes him to not be man enough to handle those jobs. He doesn’t react by lashing out at or shutting out his parents, however. Instead, he tries to find a way to prove that he can be trusted. By the end of the story, he has proved this point and earned his father’s respect, but not before he realizes that his father is only trying to protect him.
There is much talk of ghosts – Howie and his friends suspect there may be a ghost in the cave on Dolson Creek and Howie and Bootjack spend the night in an abandoned western town where they hear ghostly sounds and decide that the hotel is haunted. However, all these cases of ghostly sightings and hearings are naturally explained, and by the end Howie and least is skeptical of the idea of ghosts.
As sheep ranchers, Howie and his father run into trouble with coyotes ravaging their flocks. At one point in the story a pack of coyotes gets in and kills several lambs. Howie’s father decides to set up a trap for them the next night, and they successfully kill several. One is killed by their sheepdog, “Rita stood over the dead coyote, her muzzle a smear of blood; the coyote’s throat was cut to shreds.” [pg. 55]
While exploring the mine, Howie comes upon a skeleton, an illustration of which is included at the end of Chapter 12.
‘Heck’ is used twice while ‘golly’, ‘gosh’, ‘gee’, and ‘gawd’ are used a combined total of eight times.
Conclusion. A cute story with a satisfying ending.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret