Book Review: Savage Sam (Old Yeller #2) by Fred Gibson #SavageSam #BookReview #VintageBooks

Savage Sam (Old Yeller #2)

by Fred Gipson


My thoughts on this book:

After reading Old Yeller a few weeks ago, my children were eager to get right into the sequel Savage Sam. It became apparent to us right away that this book was going to be very different from Old Yeller.

Savage Sam opens at the Coates’ homestead with Bud Searcy bounding in on his horse to warn the family of incoming Native Americans. The family are hesitant to believe him (as we learned in Old Yeller, Searcy tells many stories and is quite a windbag), but just to be safe, Travis heads off on his horse along with Lisbeth to find Sam (Yeller’s son) and his little brother Arliss. They ride out and find Arliss and Sam hunting a bobcat. Little Arliss– even though a year older–is still as ornery as ever and won’t listen to Travis’s commands. All Arliss can think to do is catch the bobcat. During this scuffle, a group of Native Americans ride in unexpectedly and capture them all. Both boys are hurt and Sam seems to have been brutally injured before running off. As the Native Americans hastily whisk them away on horseback, the future looks bleak and Travis wonders if he’ll ever see home again. Where are the Native Americans taking them? Will they ever be rescued? Is Sam going to survive?

My children are right at this period (1870’s) in their history studies which was perfectly timed with reading Old Yeller and Savage Sam. While their history textbook seems to hide much of the turbulence of this time, Fred Gibson doesn’t spare on the details, in fact, I do believe he does a very nice job writing this time in history throughout this fictional narrative. It’s full of adventure, but it’s also distressing and a poignant reminder of the difficulties during this tumultuous time between the Native Americans and settlers. Some readers today might have some contensious debates over the use of terms, particularly the names used with describing the Native Americans. Most of the references seem racist, but I believe they’re historically accurate with this time period.

We didn’t enjoy this book as much as Old Yeller. It’s a completely different type of a story and very graphic with animal killing, scalping, and general violence throughout. Of course, I do understand that this was prevalent at the time; people had to survive, I just didn’t expect it to take up the majority of the book due to the fact that this is a children’s book. I thought the plot was interesting but drawn out. My main issue was that nearly half the book was spent on the children being mistreated and beaten by the Native Americans. In addition, there’s Lisbeth who’s fourteen and really close to getting molested by her captor. Sam has a huge part to play but really remains in the background for much of the book.

I’m not going to say that reading this book was a waste of time, because it surely wasn’t. I personally loved the detailed writing just like with Old Yeller. We also appreciated the appearance of many of the original characters from the previous book. Bud Searcy’s character is somewhat redeemed in this installment, which was nice.  It just wasn’t as enjoyable of a read, but we did still enjoy parts of the story. The book also lacks the artistic element that Old Yeller possessed because there aren’t many illustrations, so we did miss that.

Overall, it was the descriptive writing of the country landscape, wildlife details, and of course our curiosity to discover what would happen to Sam and the family that kept us reading to the finish. We’ll be watching the movie next and then we’ll read the third and final book Little Arliss.

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; First Edition edition (January 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060115602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060115609

Thanks for reading my review! Have you read any books by Fred Gipson? Feel free to share below.


38 thoughts on “Book Review: Savage Sam (Old Yeller #2) by Fred Gibson #SavageSam #BookReview #VintageBooks

  1. starjustin

    Nice review! Sounds more graphic then the first book in the series. Definitely a difficult time in history. I’m sure the kids are looking forward to the next book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wasn’t aware either, but this book was much less popular. I’m learning now that the third book is even less popular than this one. Loved the descriptions, just not so much all the violence which seemed to drag on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Me neither, Jen! We found out after reading Old Yeller. Hopefully we’ll enjoy Little Arliss a bit more than this second installment. This was okay, just a bit too brutal. I do love his writing style though. Happy Friday and weekend to you too, friend! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Terrific review! I had no idea there was a sequel. It can be harder reading some older children’s books and seeing how much the cultural norms for kid lit have changed. There are a few books I read with my son when he was younger that I remembered loving from my own youth, but which now made me cringe a bit and wonder whether books like those could even be published in today’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa. We didn’t either and we were really excited to learn about the third as well. I totally agree and this has happened a few times for us. Even though it wasn’t a favorite, I realized they actually learned a lot about the times back then. We were able to compare to the present with multiple discussions, so it turned out to be positive. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. 😉


  3. I vaguely remember reading this when I was a kid, but it didn’t make an impression, so that must mean something, and I haven’t read Little Arliss. So many books written then as “classics” are products of their time period and their cultural norms that they can be hard to read today. It’s always an issue as a Lit professor assigning readings from the Middle Ages or even the 18th century because of the violence, religious undertones, language used in the prose, and ethnocentricism used by some of the authors in the writings towards other groups of people. I really hope book three is better than book two! Happy weekend, Jenn! xoxo ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It definitely is, Steph. My oldest son felt that it seemed as though the author was attempting to make the Native Americans the ‘bad’ guys. In truth, the book was written in 1962 and Fred Gibson was born in the early 1900’s, so I personally felt that he was trying to be as historically accurate as possible when writing about the animosity between these groups. I did read that the book was based on a true story, but I can’t be for sure. Had we not branched out a bit, it’s highly possible that some of these historical details would’ve gone unseen because their history texts seem to conceal more than reveal when it comes to the violence in our history. Maybe it would’ve been better for 5th or 6th grades? I have mixed feelings about it, but I feel positive about reading it. It surely opened up many discussions in our house! Lol 😂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I agree with you. 💗 Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The author probably was since that is how the “whites” felt about the Natives at the time and the author being born when he was likely had those stereotypical attitudes as well since that era was still very racist against any race and ethnictity but white, unfortunately. I remember my great-garndfather who lived to be 94, so he was born in 1892, and he was terribly racist. He would say things that was shocking to me, my parents, etc but he didn’t see anything wrong with it because he was a product of his generation. We’ve come far since then but definitely not far enough with our attitudes. At least you feel positive about it, which I would too and I bet the discussions taught them a lot!

        I agree with you about the historical details. The history books never give enough details about the atrocities done to the Native people as far as I’m concerned. I’m always telling Kayley that we’re the immigrants and killed millions to take over land that doesn’t really beong to us. It has always bothered me. Maybe it would have been better for 5th/6th grade. I know that she wouldn’t have enjoyed it right now in 3rd grade, but she’s funny with what she enjoys since she’s really sensitive about some subject matter (Old Yeller would be a no because he dies). We’re getting ready to start Little House in the Big Woods on Monday, so I’m hoping she loves that as much as I did (even though she says she won’t), but we’re reading about the Roman Empire in History so reading Shakepeare’s play Julius Caeser, which she loves, haha! My kid is so funny.

        You too, my friend! ❤ xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know what you mean, although I don’t believe Fred Gipson was racist, but what do I know. 😂 It’s not like I ever knew him, but I will say that even with the terms used in the book, there was a discussion between two characters regarding the Native Americans and how they were angry about the buffalo. So, in their defense, another character spoke up about it. A few of the characters were very racist though! I feel like he was just trying to accurately portray the time period, but it’s hard to say. It’s always bothered me too. We talked about it and I explained that it would be just like people coming and taking over our home and land, stealing our food and telling us we have to live somewhere else. It’s no wonder they were so angry. Just horrible and that’s not even all of it. I feel like it’s best for kids to know the truth, but some experts say that kids have enough to worry about at that young age. I guess it’s debatable and everyone’s different.

          I hope she enjoys Little House in the Big Woods! I loved that when I was younger too. We have the set and wanted to start around Christmas, but you know how that goes.

          Old Yeller might not be good for her because it does have some violence too, mainly just the hunting though. Little Arliss is so bad at times though and he ‘rocks’ things like his brother Travis. That drove me nuts! I feel like I had many more issues with the book than the kids did. 😂 They were at 4-stars while I was more like 3ish. We did enjoy both movies. We finished Savage Sam (film) last night and Disney did conceal a lot of the more violent parts with even a few character changes. I guess we’ll see how book three is.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Haha, he probably wasn’t a racist and I probably should have worded that better–not that I know him either, lol. I even got nosy and looked in the university’s library website to see what info they had on him because usually it’s extensive on an author’s personal life but not so much on his. As an author, I’m sure he was portaying the time period as accurately as he knew it.

          It has always bothered me! I got the noble Columbus discovered America, blah, blah blah lesson in elementary school then got to college and minor in history for my degree and find out that he was a monster who enslaved the Natives, killed them, raped them and we have a freaking holiday named after him! It makes my blood boil. I’m careful what to tell her since she has Generilzed Anxiety Disorder, but I tell her the truth that Columbus was NOT the first person to discover America that the Vikings were here a couple thousand of years earlier and that the Thanksgiving narrative, Pilgrim narrative is not really accurate and that’s why the Native Americans mourn on that day. I think they don’t need to know everything at a young age, but I think lying about history is a wrong. It’s hard to know, but I know that you always make the best choices for your kids and know one knows your kids like you do, which is how I make my decisions on what to tell her or not tell her.

          I hope so too! We have the set too and I really hope she will want to read them all! I know how that goes, but wow, I’m a slave driver with my lesson plans, haha! No deviations from my literature studies, bahaha! My hubby says it’s the 18 years teaching university Lit that is making me deadline crazy…maybe 😉

          No, and Old Yeller made me cry and cry when I was her age. I was traumatized. And our almost 11 year old dog Onyx is sick now; he’s got bone cancer and is going through chemo and just had surgery, but it’s touch and go right now so it could be any time that we have to make that decision for him if he has issues or it could be a couple of years, but she’s been crying at bedtime thinking he’ll die during the night. It would definitely not be a good choice now. That’s funny that the kids liked the book more than you did, lol. I haven’t watched Savage Sam and honestly didn’t know there was a movie! I hope Little Arliss is good. I know it was published after Gibson died, so I wonder if he had completed it…interesting!

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Yes! I feel the same. I didn’t find out the truth until I went to college. Either I wasn’t paying attention or they just sugar coated everything. 😂 It makes no sense because to me we can’t learn from our mistakes if we disguise everything. I was very surprised that their history book still teaches them all about how Columbus and his Christianity. So, in a way I’m glad they we were able to discuss all of this.

          I think that’s awesome that you’re sticking with your lit plans! I have caved a few times now this year already. You know we’re constantly reading though and I know we’ll catch back up. I’m sure she loves reading with you. I hope she’s enjoying homeschool and is much more comfortable now.

          I’m so sorry to hear about Onyx. I know you guys went through that not too long ago. I hate to hear it and know how hard that is. You’ll have to let me know how everything is going. I’ll definitely keep him in my prayers.

          I guess Little Arliss was discovered after he died! I read that there’s a film adaptation but I guess it was a TV special rather than a movie. Not sure if we’ll be able to find it. It’s supposed to just cover Little Arliss and Sam. We had to request the book from our state library because no others had it. Isn’t that interesting? I do hope that you read the other books because I’d love to hear your opinion on them, but I totally understand if you don’t. 😉 Take care and hope you had an awesome weekend! 💜

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I went to a private Christian school, so there was no way they were going to teach that Columbus was anything but Christian or anything that went against the narrative. I agree, we can’t learn if we don’t know from our mistakes but it seems like things are crazy right now in the US and people haven’t learned much. I’m just so sad at all that is going on. 😦

          I’m sticking with my Lit, History, and Grammar curriculum hard core, lol (everything that I have degrees in…!!). I stopped her cursive because she liked it but then got frustrated and today she broke down and wanted to not do Latin anymore, so I said okay maybe it was time to give it a break. She’s not having trouble with it but I think she hates writing the sentences for practice since she’s not a big fan of handwriting (hence the cursive). And science is just hit or miss although I think that’s more because she wanted to do Chemistry than anything, ugh. She’s got to take the standardized test in April so I hope I haven’t missed anything. She’s loving homeschool though, thanks! It’s so nice not to have her crying, sick to her stomach, and all that over going to school every day anymore! I know you’ll catch back up 🙂 We’re always reading too-she’ll read on her own but I still think she enjoys it more when we read together. I wonder when she’ll outgrow that..

          Thank you. It’s so hard, especially like you said we went through it not too long ago with Branna, and I’m still not over that nor is she. We’ve not been able to get another dog just because I’m not ready and now this. It will be so hard especially for my boys and Kayley, more my younger one since he’s “his” dog while Branna was always my dog. I always loved Onyx but didn’t really become attached to him until she died when we were both grieving and he really did pull me through by just being here and comforting me. Loving a pet is wonderful but traumatic. So worth it though.

          I believe his son discovered Little Arliss. I read that too about the adaption and agree it will probably be hard to find. That is interesting…I wonder if our library would have it. I’ll have to read them one day (and reread Old Yeller since it’s been over 30 years) and let you know what I think!

          You too! I did have a good weekend, thanks! I hope you did too! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I had no idea that there was a sequel to Old Yeller. Probably because of the graphic violence, it was not one that my parents bought and the school would not have pushed it for sure. You are right though, it is just describing the times that the story takes place.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s