Robert Newton Peck, Author . HarperCollins $16.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-06-623791-6

Set in Depression-era Florida, Peck's (A Day No Pigs Would Die) tangy tale stars Tullis Yoder, a 17-year-old orphaned rodeo worker. His new sweetheart, Clemsa Lou Wetmeadow, quickly sums up his personality: "Although I have known you less than a full day, Tullis Yoder, you seem wholesome of heart and cleaner than the first bite of a wedding cake." When the rodeo is "disperpetuated" and its 13 horses destined for the pet food factory, Tullis feels compelled to steal them away. The scheme involves a cast of rowdy characters, all of whom possess over-the-top names and personalities and salty speech patterns ("Hortense. I never forgit a gal with dimples, and she let me count hers. Forty-nine, and a plenty in pervoking places," reminisces veteran horse thief Rubin Leviticus Hitchborn). Although the abrupt shifts in point of view and nonstop one-liners can be a little distracting, Peck offers a solid picture of a good kid whose heart yearns for a home, a girl to love, and glory as a bull rider. Tullis eventually finds it all (losing half a hand in the process), and endears himself to the audience with an admirable mix of machismo and kindness. If readers can accept the terms of Peck's hyperbolic world, they're in for a highly entertaining ride. Ages 12-up. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
Prebound-Glued - 277 pages - 978-0-7569-1461-5
Library Binding - 192 pages - 978-0-06-623792-3
Paperback - 277 pages - 978-0-06-441075-5
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