HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Rusty at Ram’s Horn Ranch
Author: Shannon Garst
Illustrator: Raymond Creekmore
Publisher: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1951
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Garst, Shannon. Rusty at Ram’s Horn Ranch; (Published in 1951 by Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York City, NY). John David, twelve years old, is an orphan boy. His mother had died before he was four. Then a few years after that, a wild stallion had thrown his father, Tod David, and pawed him to death. John was sent for a while to a boys’ home where his bright red hair, freckles, and stammering made him the object of merciless teasing. Later, he lived with his father’s brother, Uncle Lon, who had a violent temper and mistreated the boy. When Lon orders John to rebrand a stolen stallion, the youngster runs away with his horse Toby and comes to Ram’s Horn Ranch, a sheep farm in Colorado owned by Bruce and Melissa Leonard with their twin eleven year old children Ben and Ginger, where he calls himself David Jones, claims to be fifteen, and asks for a job.
Despite his misgivings, Mr. Leonard hires John temporarily. Nicknamed Rusty because of his hair and complexion, he befriends a stray black and white sheep dog which he names Pal. Rusty discovers that keeping sheep can be as exciting as herding cattle or breaking wild horses. When some sheep are discovered killed, did Pal do it? Will Rusty be allowed to stay with the Leonards? And what happens when the ranch is hit by a strong blizzard? Several common euphemisms (gee, darn, gosh, golly, doggone, dratted) occur but no actual cursing or swearing. Every night when Rusty stretches out on his blankets, he prays for help to be good enough so that the Leonard family will keep him. This heartwarming story is a good Western adventure, with an unusual locale. It also has a lot of solid Western and sheep-raising detail.