The Adventure Begins
"If you like Hank, you'll like Wilder Good, too."—John R. Erickson, author of Hank the Cowdog
Meet 12-year-old Wilder Good, who lives with his parents and little sister, Molly, in a small town in southern Colorado. When he's lucky, he gets to go hunting with Gale Loving, a 72-year-old elder at the church the Goods attend, and a good friend and mentor to Wilder. They make sort of an odd pair, an old man and a boy, but they fit together pretty well in the outdoors. (Though sometimes Wilder still can't help but wonder what kind of a name "Gale" is for a grown man.)
Wilder plays basketball, is active in his 4-H club, likes to read—his hero is Teddy Roosevelt—and does all the things that seventh-graders do. (He has a "secret" girlfriend, too.) He's a Dallas Cowboys fan. But mostly he loves the outdoors, hunting in the Colorado Rockies with Gale or his dad, or at his grandfather's Texas ranch.
Wilder is on the threshold between being a kid and beginning to grow up, and he's trying his best to figure out just what it means to join that grownup world. There's a lot to learn, and he's grateful to have rock-steady Gale to guide him.
In The Elk Hunt, Wilder accompanies Gale into the mountains in search of his first elk. It's a special day for Wilder in many ways—the biggest game he's ever hunted, and the first chance to use his grandfather's Winchester .270. He's determined to succeed with high marks.
Hunting elk is an exciting and demanding pursuit, but even after Wilder and Gale are headed home, there's still danger to face—that's when nature decides to really test Wilder's resolve.
Learn more about Wilder at wildergood.com and read his running journal entries about wild stuff.
The Elk Hunt is reviewed in The Old Schoolhouse.
The author received this note from a public schoolteacher in Missouri:
"Tyler came in my room reluctant and unsure of himself. That was his personality but also as a reader, he was reluctant. He knew that he wanted to be part of something bigger than the 'baby' books I kept offering him. He wanted to be part of the group of kids who read and love to read.
"My first goal in teaching children to become readers is to help them discover that reading is enjoyable. Second, I want to make lifetime readers. I was not getting anywhere with these goals with this particular student. I had offered book after book. I picked out several books from the library to show him. He turned his nose up at every single one of them. He had no interest in them.
"Then one day Tyler saw Wilder Good : The Elk Hunt sitting on my desk. He pointed to it and said, 'I want to read that book.' This is the first time those words had been said by this student. I decided to give him a copy to read at home. The book immediately became more than a book. It became a trophy, a rite of passage into the world of readers. He carried it around and showed a couple of other students, who then wanted their own copy. He set it carefully at the top of his desk for everyone to see.
"Soon after, another student in my class began reading Wilder Good. Then they started discussing daily what chapter they were on. Tyler was not only reading, he was leading an informal reading group!"
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S. J. Dahlstrom lives in West Texas. He is a board member and founder of Whetstone Boys Ranch & Boarding School in Mountain View Missouri. In his writing he also draws on his experiences as a cowboy, husband, and father.