Old Yeller

by Fred Gipson HarperCollins, 1957 Honor Book
Activities 2002 Nancy Polette

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ABOUT THE BOOK
The big, ugly, yellow dog showed up out of nowhere one night and stole a side of hanging pork, and when Travis went for him the next morning that dog started yelling like a baby. Then he got into the spring water with five-year-old Arliss. Travis took an easy hate to Old Yeller and would have driven him off if it hadn't been for Arliss' loud and violent protest. Pa and Ma and Travis and Arliss lived on Birdsong Creek in the Texas hill country. It wasn't an easy life, but they had a snug cabin, their own hogs and cattle, and they grew most of what else they needed. The only thing they lacked that year in the late 1860's was cash, so the men decided to drive the cattle up to the new market in Abilene.

Travis was only fourteen, but he was proud of his new role as man of the family and determined to live up to his responsibility. When the crazy-sick loafer wolf goes for Ma it is Yeller who saves them. But when a dog is bitten by a rabid wolf there is only one thing to be done. Travis learns just how much he has come to love that big ugly dog, and he learns something about the pain of life, too.
ACTIVITY:
Travis did not have much formal schooling but he knew what to do when danger threatened his family. Another boy who was considered just a fair student in science grew up to give the world a great gift, a vaccination for rabies which until that time was always a fatal disease. Guess the true/false answers to this quiz. Then read about Pasteur to support or deny your guesses.

1._____ Before Pasteur's time milk often made people sick.
2._____ Pasteur discovered how germs can cause disease.
3._____ Pasteur showed how bacteria can spoil food.
4._____ Pasteur was an English chemist.
5._____ He discovered that fermentation in wine is done by germs.
INTERESTING BOOKS:
EARLY HEALTH AND MEDICINE (Early Settler Life) by Bobbi Kalman, Crabtree, 1991.
LOUIS PASTEUR: YOUNG SCIENTIST by Francene Sabin. Troll, 1990
LOUIS PASTEUR: DISEASE FIGHTER by Linda Wasmer Smith. Enslow, 1997
TEXAS TRADITIONS: THE CULTURE OF THE LONE STAR STATE by Robyn Turner. Little Brown, 1996
ACTIVITY TWO

Travis had other animals to contend with as well as the rabid wolf.
Wild boars were common as was the bear that chased Arliss. One bite from the gila monster could mean death. Read about this Texas menace in: Peterson's First Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton-Mifflin, 1992

Suppose that Arliss had found a gila monster and was trying to catch it to bring home for a pet. Complete this account telling what Travis would do. Be sure to include information about the gila monster in your account.

From behind the rickety woodshed came squeals of delight. "Come on, come on, crawl in," Travis heard Arliss coax. What has he caught this time, Travis wondered. He stepped around the corner of the shed and stopped in horror. Arliss was hovering over a gila monster trying to push it into a box with a stick. The resisting creature (describe its appearance) was ___________________________________________________________________
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Its yellow spots danced in the sun like
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The more Arliss poked the creature with the stick, the more the creature (tell what it does) ___________________________________________________________________
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"Arliss, get away from that critter. Don't you have any sense? One bite on your little finger and" (tell what would happen if bitten by a gila monster)
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Travis picked up Arliss with one hand and a rock with the other. Taking aim, he threw the rock at the gila monster and watched it (tell how it moves) ___________________________________________________________________
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