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:
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.
- 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 @ Sharisakurai.com
Jennifer @ Jennifertarheelreader.com
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.