Classic From a Place You’ve Lived. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1956)


Travis doesn’t want a new dog, but as his father rides away to take the cattle north, he encourages Travis to reconsider. When a thieving yellow dog arrives on the farm, younger brother Arliss immediately welcomes him with open arms, but it takes Travis a few adventures to come around to the yellow cur.

It’s not surprising Old Yeller won a Newbury Honor. The terse writing evokes vivid images without bogging down the young (or tired) reader. We all know how this ends, but I still loved the book. I think the matter-of-fact way the Gipson handled the ending reduced the emotional trauma compared to the movie.

My family is from the Pineywoods in East Texas and Rocksprings in West Texas, so it was easy to imagine my great-grandfathers having similar adventures. Reading this book, I wished that I had thought to ask my grandfather more about his childhood while he was living. I’m adding it to my children’s Texas living history library along with Johnny Texas.

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