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  The Last of the Roundup Boys

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Thirteen-year-old Thomas Hunter has always longed to taste the freedom of life on the Western range, away from the stuffy home and watchful eyes of his well-to-do grandparents in Virginia. So when a letter arrives from his father inviting Thomas to join him and his new family on their Kansas farm, he can already see himself riding across the prairie like a real cowboy, living the true Code of the West.

Yet the hardscrabble farm isnít what Thomas expected. Thereís hardly enough food; his new stepmother doesnít approve of his ways; and he spends all his time mucking out the barn and working the fields.

Then, just as Thomas begins to grow restless, a herd gets swept up in a cattle stampede and he must follow a group of cowboys to reclaim them. Finally facing the prairie adventures heís dreamed of, he finds himself confronted with challenging decisions, eye-opening action, and an honor to uphold that calls for the real Code of the West.

This novel is inspired by my great-grandfatherís childhood. He immigrated to Kansas in a covered wagon as a baby in the 1880s. He was sent back to Virginia to be raised by his grandparents at age two after his mother died, and summoned back to Kansas at age nine to live with his father and step-family on the family farm. Despite hardships, he stayed in Kansas and farmed until he died at age 86. I donít know much about his early life. The stories in my novel are patterned after the real lives of Kansas children in the 1880s.

ÔūGrasslands was a finalist for the 2002 Western Writers of America Spur Award. It made Bank Streetís List of Best Childrenís Books for 2003 and won the Society of Midland Authors award for juvenile fiction.

ÔūGrasslands got starred reviews in Kirkus and School
Library Journal.


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ďThe dust rolled in from every side, choking me.  Papa's cattle dissolved into the stampede, the calves bawling for their mothers.  I hurled a rock at the mass closing in on me, yelled and waved my arms.  Not fifty feet away from me a longhorn at the front stumbled and was swept under the pounding hooves.Ē




copyright © 2003-2004 Debra Seely

Jacket art for Grasslands copyright © 2002 by James E. Ransome
Jacket art for The Last of the Roundup Boys copyright © 2004 Greg Spalenka
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