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  • Written by Gary Paulsen
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  • Tucket's Home
  • Written by Gary Paulsen
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On Sale: August 31, 2011
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89005-5
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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Francis Tucket, Lottie and Billy have survived extraordinary, hair-raising adventures in their quest to find Francis's family, lost when he was kidnapped from a wagon train on the Oregon Trail. Now they meet up with a British explorer, bloodthirsty soldiers, and in a tragic, heroic encounter, with Jason Grimes, the mountain man. Their way is made more treacherous still by the secret they carry, the ancient gold they discovered in a Spanish grave. In this final adventure they head home at last, and an epilogue tells what happens to them on the Oregon frontier.


Francis Tucket lay quietly, the sun warming his back, and watched a small herd of buffalo below him in a depression on the prairie. There were only fifteen or twenty of them, mostly cows with some yearling calves. Two young bulls were sparring, tearing up the dirt and raising dust in great clouds.

He turned to look behind him, where ten-year-old Lottie watched their horses graze. Her little brother, Billy, crouched beside her, making an arrow. Francis looked down at the buffalo. The sun was gentle on his back, the dust from the fight was drifting away on a soft breeze, and as Francis lay watching, he let his mind wander back over the trip since he and Lottie and Billy had left the Pueblo Indian village.

They'd stayed there a month so that Francis could recover from a snakebite. With the help of some of the Indians, Lottie had pulled him through, while Billy had learned to hunt and shoot a bow and arrow with amazing skill. The village had been a peaceful place.

Now Francis shifted and scanned the horizon. Even in a quiet moment like this one, you had to be alert, ready for anything. They'd all learned that the hard way.

Francis Tucket had been separated from his family more than a year before, on his fourteenth birthday, when Pawnees kidnapped him from a wagon train. Jason Grimes, a one-armed mountain man, had helped him escape and taught him to survive. After they parted, Francis had found Lottie and Billy alone on the prairie, their father dead of cholera. They'd been members of a wagon train that abandoned them when their father became sick, for fear that he would infect others in the train. So the three had stuck together and headed west to the Oregon Trail to find Francis's family.

Lottie had proved to be the best organizer and camper Francis had ever seen, and Billy, now just shy of eight, had become a hunting and scouting machine of the first order. They'd been through some hair-raising adventures: Kidnapped by the Comanchero outlaw band. Storms. Snakebite. Ambushed by the murderous thieves Courtweiler and Dubs. The three had shared plenty, good and bad, and now they shared a secret--the ancient Spanish silver and gold they carried on the packhorse. When they were being chased by the Comancheros Billy had stumbled upon the grave of a Spanish conquistador, buried with his

armor, sword and plunder of centuries ago. Of course, gold and silver meant nothing out here in the wilderness. But someday, someday they'd find Francis's family and civilization, though they still had five hundred miles of rough country to cover alone.

Francis had feared there would be problems on this part of their journey, but it had turned out to be nothing more than a camping trip in a country so

beautiful that Francis often had trouble believing it was real.

They had started in partial desert, country covered in mesquite and pinons, but it quickly gave way to mountains. Spring had come early and had stayed. Thick, green grass kept the horses well fed and happy; streams ran full of cold water and trout. Billy caught the fish easily, using a skill he'd learned from the Pueblos that required only a bit of line braided from horsehair, taken from the ponies' tails, and a bent and sharpened piece of wire.

Francis had no trouble getting deer with his rifle, and Billy supplemented the venison and trout diet with rabbit and turkey and grouse he shot with his bow. Within a week they were all getting fat, and the packhorse nearly staggered with extra meat as they rode through grassy mountain meadows amid high mountain peaks still covered with snow.

But they hadn't seen any buffalo until they'd come to this rise and seen below them the small herd with the fighting bulls.

"Honestly, Francis, I don't see why we need more meat." Lottie had crawled up alongside him. Billy, his arrow finished, was a hundred yards back, below the ridge, adjusting the makeshift packs on the horses. "We have so much now we can't carry it all."

"Not so loud--if the wind shifts they'll hear us and run," Francis whispered. "The reason is that we don't have buffalo meat. Besides that, they're fat and we need the grease for our moccasins and leather and my rifle. So we're going to shoot a buffalo, all right?"

She nodded and became quiet and he studied the terrain around the herd to see how best to approach them for a shot. The buffalo were in a small basin with a series of drainage gullies that fed in and out. Francis saw that the one that ran off to the east seemed to provide the best course. It was deep and wound back toward him in a big loop, with a smaller ditch he could use for access. He nodded and pointed with his chin.

"See that ditch off to the right?" He looked at Lottie, then back. "You go back with Billy, I'll make my way down there and--"

Suddenly, as if by magic, there was a burst of gray smoke below them from the edge of the gully that pointed toward the buffalo. Half an instant later

Francis heard the crack of a rifle--they were so far away it took that long for the sound to reach them--and one of the cows watching the fighting bulls pitched forward and down onto her side.

"What . . ."

There was another puff of smoke. Another cow went down; then another shot, and another and another, coming so fast they were almost on top of each other, and each time, a cow would drop on her side and start kicking in death. Twelve shots. Twelve cows.

"Francis, somebody is shooting our buffalo!" Lottie punched his shoulder.
Gary Paulsen|Author Q&A

About Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen - Tucket's Home

Photo © Tim Keating

“We have been passive. We have been stupid. We have been lazy. We have done all the things we could do to destroy ourselves. If there is any hope at all for the human race, it has to come from young people. Not from adults.”—Gary Paulsen

A three-time Newbery Honor winner, Gary Paulsen is also winner of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author’s lifetime contribution to writing books for teenagers.


Writing is so much a part of the way I live . . .

Writing is so much a part of the way I live that I would be lost without the discipline and routine. I write every day—every day—and it gives me balance and focus. Every day I wake up, usually at 4:30 a.m., with the sole purpose of sitting down to write with a cup of hot tea and a computer or a laptop or a pad of paper—it doesn’t matter. I’ve written whole books in my office, in a dog kennel with a headlamp, on more airplanes than I can remember, on the trampoline of my catamaran off the shores of Fiji—it never matters where I write, just where the writing takes me.

Everything else I do is just a path to get me to that moment when I start to work. Sometimes I’m lucky and the living part of life gets folded into the writing part, like with Dogsong and the Brian books and Caught by the Sea and How Angel Peterson Got His Name. Those books were based on personal inspection at zero altitude, I took experiences that I had and turned them into books. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, but not with the specific goal of writing about it later. I’ll be honest, though, and tell you that I enjoyed writing about those times as much as, if not more than, I enjoyed living through those times in the first place. I didn’t start writing until I was 26 years old. I look back now and wonder what I thought I was supposed to be doing with my time before that.

I’ve experimented with different voices and styles . . .
Sometimes the way to tell a story is even more important than the story itself. I’ve experimented with different voices and styles and genres over the years. The Glass Café and Harris and Me were born of the voices of people I could not get out of my head. Tony was a boy I knew back when I lived in Hollywood and Harris was a cousin from my childhood. To honor their voices, I wrote the books in very different styles. Tony had a fast-paced, breathless speaking style and I had fun trying to capture that on paper. And the best way to paint a picture of Harris was to detail all those crazy stunts of his.

Nightjohn and Soldier’s Heart were the result of studying history. Sarny came from the research I did in the National Archives when I stumbled across the Slave Narratives. And I discovered Charley Goddard when reading a book about the Minnesota First Volunteers. I hadn’t expected to find characters for books of my own when I started reading, but I could not shake them until I tried to figure out on paper what their lives must have been like.

I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me . . .
Even after all these years, I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me. There is not only the satisfaction from the hard work—and even after all this time and all these books, it is still very hard work for me to make a book—and the way the hair rises on the back of my neck when a story works for me, but also the relationships I have made with the people who read my books.

The one true measure of success for me has always been the readers . . .
People ask me about the kind of money I make and how many awards I’ve received, but the one true measure of success for me
has always been the readers. I give the checks to my wife and my agent keeps the awards for me. The only thing I have in my office, other than junk and work and research, is a framed letter from one of my readers. That means more to me than just about anything else, the letters
I get from the people who read my books.

Thank you for reading my books and for writing to me. Read like a wolf eats. Read.


Born May 17, 1939, Gary Paulsen is one of America’s most popular writers for young people. Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read—along with his own library card—he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dogsled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his powerful stories.

Paulsen’s realization that he would become a writer came suddenly when he was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California. One night he walked off the job, never to return. He spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader, working on his own writing every night. Then he left California and drove to northern Minnesota where he rented a cabin on a lake; by the end of the winter, he had completed his first novel.

Living in the remote Minnesota woods, Paulsen eventually turned to the sport of dogsled racing, and entered the 1983 Iditarod. In 1985, after running the Iditarod for the second time, he suffered an attack of angina and was forced to give up his dogs. “I started to focus on writing with the same energies and efforts that I was using with dogs. So we’re talking 18-, 19-, 20-hour days completely committed to work. Totally, viciously, obsessively committed to work, the way I’d run dogs. . . . I still work that way, completely, all the time. I just work. I don’t drink, I don’t fool around, I’m just this way. . . . The end result is there’s a lot of books out there.”

It is Paulsen’s overwhelming belief in young people that drives him to write. His intense desire to tap deeply into the human spirit and to encourage readers to observe and care about the world around them has brought him both enormous popularity with young people and critical acclaim from the children’s book community. Paulsen is a master storyteller who has written more than 175 books and some 200 articles and short stories for children and adults. He is one of the most important writers of young adult literature today, and three of his novels—Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room—are Newbery Honor Books. His books frequently appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association.

Paulsen has received many letters from readers (as many as 200 a day) telling him they felt Brian Robeson’s story in Hatchet was left unfinished by his early rescue, before the winter came and made things really tough. They wanted to know what would happen if Brian were not rescued, if he had to survive in the winter. Paulsen says, “I researched and wrote Brian’s Winter, showing what could and perhaps would have happened had Brian not been rescued.”

In Paulsen’s book, Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books, Paulsen shares his own adventures in the wild, which are often hilarious and always amazing: moose attacks, heart attacks, near-misses in planes, and looking death in the eye.

Paulsen has written a time-travel novel, The Transall Saga, which was named an ALA Quick Pick. And in the heartwrenching story Soldier’s Heart, Paulsen brings the Civil War to life battle by battle, as readers see the horror of combat and its devastating results through the eyes of 15-year-old Charley Goddard.

Paulsen and his wife Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific. For more information about Gary Paulsen, visit www.garypaulsen.com


“Readers will want to savor this stirring book.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“The ultimate coming-of-age story. . . . Exceptional and so heartbreakingly real.”—Starred, Booklist

“Paulsen crafts a companion/sequel to Hatchet containing many of its same pleasures. . . . Read together, the two books make his finest tale of survival yet.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“These episodes will not only keep young readers, of both sexes, in stitches, they’re made to order for reading aloud.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Superb characterizations, splendidly evoked setting, and thrill-a-minute plot make this book a joy to gallop through.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“A treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more. . . . His writing percolates with energetic love.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

A Life Remembered
“A satisfying sequel. . . . It is a great read, with characters both to hate and to cherish, and a rich sense of what it really was like then.”—Starred, Booklist

“The novel’s spare, simple language and vivid visual images of brutality and death on the battlefield make it accessible and memorable to young people.”—Starred, Booklist

“A riveting science fiction adventure. . . . Captivating.”—Starred, Booklist

Author Q&A

author fun facts

May 17 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Previous jobs: Farm hand, ranch hand, truck driver, sailor, dogsled racer, teacher, field engineer, editor, soldier, actor, director, trapper, professional archer, migrant farm worker, singer

Hobbies: Sailing, collecting and riding Harley Davidsons; twice ran the Iditarod, the challenging 1,000 mile dogsled race across Alaska

Inspiration for writing: After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--Gary was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

From the Hardcover edition.

Praise | Awards


Join Francis Tucket’s final adventure and homecoming in this rip-roaring series set in the great American West.


WINNER 2002 Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List

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