Old Yeller.  Fred Gipson

Harper Collins, 1956; Awarded 1957.

Synopsis: This story of a farm boy's relationship with his dog in the late 1860s demonstrates a dog's devotion to its duty and its master.  Fourteen-year-old Travis is forced to accept responsibility as the man of the house and make a difficult decision.

Themes: Family relationships, dogs, death and grief, Old West, farming

Author Information: (1908-1973) Fred Gipson was born the son of a cotton farmer in Mason, TX and worked as a field laborer. He majored in Journalism at the University of Texas and later worked as a reporter and columnist.  Gipson had two wives and two children. He is best known for his novels for children.

Discussion Questions:  Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. What had the father done during the Civil War?  What is he doing now?
2. What do you think about the character Arliss? Have you ever done something dangerous without really meaning to?
3. Why did Travis insist that he be the one to shoot Yeller?  If  Old Yeller were your dog, would you want to be the one responsible for putting it to death?  Why?  In the end, what is it that makes Travis start to feel better?

Activities:
1. Have the class pretend to be one of the children in the story.  Midway through the book, stop and have them write a letter to the father telling how things are going on the farm while he is away.  Standard 2, Benchmark 2
2. Plan and cook a pioneer dinner, creating some of the foods mentioned in the book.  Standard 3, Benchmark 4
3. The author uses dialect in the story.  Make a list of slang words used and rewrite those words in proper English.  Standard 2, Benchmark 4