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.
- 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.