Shabby Sunday: Old Yeller by Fred Gibson – 1956 – #ShabbySunday #BookReview #VintageBooks

Shabby Sunday

I have a bunch of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every now and then sharing one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to participate as anyone can join. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Last week I shared:

Andersen’s Fairy Tales – Illustrated by Arthur Szyk – 1945

Today’s shabby share is:

Old Yeller by Fred Gibson

Old Yeller is a coming of age story about a boy named Travis and his family living in Salt Lick, Texas in the 1860s. Travis is fourteen years old and yearns to be a man. His father is leaving for Abilene on a trip to drive cattle for money, and Travis will be left to man their home until his father returns.

“Now, Travis,” he said, “you’re getting to be a big boy; and while I’m gone, you’ll be the man of the family. I want you to act like one. You take care of Mama and Little Arliss. You look after the work and don’t wait around for your mama to point out what needs to be done.”

Even though Travis is now responsible for keeping his mother and younger brother Arliss safe, he’ll also have to keep up with chopping the wood and hunting for food. He feels pretty confident that he can take care of things while his father’s away and looks forward to getting his own horse when his father returns.


Not long after, a stray yellow dog shows up and steals some of their meat. Travis is extremely furious about it and wants to hurt the dog, but little Arliss insists they keep him. Travis flat-out doesn’t want a dog again; he had a dog before that died and it was hard for him to get over. Little Arliss is persistent and wins him over. They name the dog Old Yeller.

“I guessed that when you are nearly a man, you have to learn to put up with a lot of aggravation from little old bitty kids.”

Over time, Old Yeller doesn’t just keep Arliss entertained; he earns his keep and saves their lives multiple times. He’s a wonderful cow dog and great with the hogs too. Travis gets to where he depends on Old Yeller to help him around the land and grows to love him.

Travis learns quickly that life on the frontier is often unpredictable and perilous. There are also many daily chores to maintain: keeping animals out of the corn patch, branding hogs, fetching water, hunting, and milking the cow. There’s also a disease known as hydrophobia going around and killing animals which is a big risk for humans too.


I read this book when I was in elementary school and decided to read it with my children. I recall being emotional over the book when I was a child, but honestly this time around it wasn’t as sad. The ending is sort of revealed within the first pages which spares the reader in a way. I finally got teary in the end when Travis has a conversation with his dad about Old Yeller.

“That was as rough a thing as I ever heard tell of happening to a boy. And I’m mighty proud to learn how my boy stood up to it. You couldn’t ask any more of a grown man… It’s not a thing you can forget. I don’t guess it’s a thing you ought to forget. What I mean is, things like that happen. They may seem mighty cruel and unfair, but that’s how life is part of the time. But that isn’t the only way life is. A part of the time, it’s mighty good. And a man can’t afford to waste all the good part, worrying about the bad parts. That makes it all bad.”

I enjoy Fred Gipson’s writing as it’s very graphic with detailed descriptions and imagery. You really get a sense of what life was like for this family with all their hard work and difficulties. It’s almost like you’re transported back to this time period on the frontier. It’s a great book to educate children about what life was like back then.

We liked the characters in the book, especially Travis. With Travis as the narrator, you feel his emotions as he tells the story and you can see his character grow as he matures tremendously in the little time his father is gone. His mother is supportive and does a fine job caring for the family while their father is away. Little Arliss is a handful and he’s always getting into trouble. He bumps heads with Travis often, but Travis grows to understand him. Burn Sanderson is incredibly kind and respectful. I think the only character we found annoying was Bud Searcy and mainly because he was too chatty and lazy. He wasn’t willing to help, would quickly pass work onto someone else, and basically came around acting like he was there for support. What he really wants is just a free meal.


This hardcover edition is a previous library copy in really good shape. I’m unsure what year this edition is based on the copyright page. It’s definitely not a very old edition because it does list Fred Gipson’s last book and his death in 1973 on the back cover. I believe the first edition publisher was Harper & Brothers. Regardless, this is a classic we’re happy to have.

Amazon actually lists this book as a large print edition, but it seems like a standard print size to me. There are a few black and white illustrations throughout but not many.


I was excited to see that there’s a second book titled Savage Sam. We’ll be reading that one next.

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (July 11, 1956)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060115459


We watched the Disney movie after reading the book and I was surprised with the differences which included a switch up with the ending. There definitely wasn’t as much death and there were some scenes removed altogether. We loved the movie and actually liked the ending in the movie a little better.

Other blogs who have participated in Shabby Sunday:

Nicky@ An Introverted Bookworm

Claire@ Brizzle Lass Books

Author Didi Oviatt

Sassy Brit@ Alternative-Read

Brittany @ PerfectlyTolerable

Shari @

Jennifer @

Thanks for checking out Shabby Sunday! Have you read this book? Do you have any shabby books to share? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

♥️ Mischenko

26 thoughts on “Shabby Sunday: Old Yeller by Fred Gibson – 1956 – #ShabbySunday #BookReview #VintageBooks

  1. I always did and always will love Old Yeller but I can’t even think about it without crying. We read it out loud in middle school and I was a blubbering pile of bones throughout the entire book. It’s just one of the very best book ever. I’ll have to go through some of my old shabby books and join in with you on this. There are so many great books from our past!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! It’s a wonderful book. I didn’t have as much emotion this time around, but when his father comes back and has that talk with him…it just about did me in. I would love to see your old books, Mackey! ♥️ Take care and thank you. 😉


  2. I didn’t read the book, but remember watching the movie many times. And I remember crying and crying… and crying some more!!! I wonder if, like you, the book and/or movie wouldn’t be as sad for me as an adult!!! Thank you for reminding me of Old Yeller!!! And for your great review!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww! I know what you mean. My son was quite sad over it. I loved the actors in Old Yeller though. They were all excellent. The ending in the movie was a little easier for us versus the book ending.

      Maybe it wouldn’t be as sad for you this time around? I highly recommend trying the book too. We can’t wait to read Savage Sam now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Julia! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely share, my favorite M! I saw this movie as a young child, and I think I may have seen it more than once because I really enjoyed everything BUT one of the scenes, and I still remember it, and it’s too heart wrenching now for me to even think of. I just wish that stuff didn’t have to happen. But that said, like I mentioned, I remember it being wonderful otherwise. ♥️ I had no idea about Savage Sam!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Me only experience with Old Yeller was watching the movie. Me sister and I cried every single time we saw it as kids. The first mate said he refused to watch it as a child because of the death. I do love this story and the many other animal stories I read when I was little. Lovely post. I adore yer Shabby Sundays.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, it is very sad, Captain. I feel like the movie made the ending a little easier to accept though. It was so surprising to me. I won’t spoil it though in case you haven’t read the book. Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Shabby Sunday: The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes – 1973 #ShabbySunday #VintageBooks #ChildrensBooks #BookReview – ReadRantRock&Roll

  6. I remember this one from when I was a kid, too! I was pretty emotional over it, too. Interesting to know there was less emotion there as an adult because you saw what was coming. You’ve made me want to watch the movie now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also had forgotten that the ending of the book is actually shared on the first page. You generally know what’s going to happen, which I think made it easier. You’ll have to let me know if you watch the movie cause the ending is a little different. ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It has been so long since I read this book and I believe I have a shabby copy of this one at home. I need a reread of a book for the Popsugar Challenge, maybe this will be the one. I do remember blubbering when I read it as a child, I will see how I do now. I am betting I will be worse, I tend to have gotten more emotional in the last few years. Great share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! It’s a pretty quick read too. I remember being sad as a kid, but it wasn’t bad this time around. The kids didn’t bawl, but they were sad. I think the first page spoils it because you generally know what’s going to happen, you just don’t know why yet. I personally liked the movie ending better. Hoping this won’t make you too sad though! 😉


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