Weeks after arriving in Colorado to start a new farm, the Hollowell family is looking at disaster when 15-year-old Owen witnesses the theft of their mules. Learning that Hercules and Peaches will likely be sold to the mines, Owen sets out to track the rustler over the mountains. It’s all Ma can do to hold back little brother Till, who’s more than a handful. The outlaw’s trail leads to Telluride, the turbulent “City of Gold.” Owen gets help from a resourceful girl named Molly and dubious assistance from Till, who shows up on the train from Durango.
Telluride’s notorious marshal finally takes an interest when he identifies the rustler as one of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. The lawman leads Owen and Till on horseback into the canyon country and all the way to Robbers Roost. For readers who love adventure and humor, Will Hobbs delivers a stirring tale of two brothers who risk it all to recover their mules and secure their future.
Scholastic Reading Counts
Part quest and part adventure, this story of courage and resilience describes one family’s journey across Colorado in search of two stolen mules and a family’s legacy. Following the death of their father, the Hollowell family has just settled on their new farm when 15-year-old Owen discovers their two mules have been stolen. Knowing they won’t survive without livestock to plow the fields, Owen sets out to track down the rustler and bring home their beloved Hercules and Peaches. After a dangerous mountain trek, he finds himself in Telluride, the self-proclaimed “City of Gold.” With help from a colorful assortment of townsfolk, miners, a girl named Molly, and even his Wild West–loving brother Till, Owen learns the truth about the mules and the man who took them. Now all he must do is convince the town’s infamous marshal to help him catch the outlaw. Balancing a narrative packed with descriptive details and a full range of characters, including some notorious names from Wild West lore, Hobbs’s oftentimes slow trudge through the Colorado mountains is lightened by rich dialogue and the protagonists’ strong sense of purpose. This historical novel set in the American West touches on everything from unions and illness to xenophobia and criminality. Hobbs seamlessly surrounds the Hollowells’ quest with an authentic view of mining life at the turn of the century.