Jess Ford, a young orphan adopted by the people in and around Sundown Town, encounters adventure in his work as a cowboy and his friendship with Sweet Rain, his ‘Sioux injun friend’. On his horse, Destiny, he tries to save a new barn from fire and control a stampede of cattle. In addition to being brave and thoughtful, his compassion and intelligence help him to solve the problems of others, including those of Sweet Rain’s tribe members, who face a threat to their livelihoods as a direct result of the white settlers in 19th-century United States.
Children will remember opening books like this in their Christmas parcels back in the 1960s. The story is wonderfully nostalgic. It is a gentle combination of a classical cowboy story and a moralistic tale of good over bad. It also deals with the contemporary issue of the Western white settlers’ relationships with the Native Americans. Geraldine writes gentle prose, introducing new words and concepts gradually, allowing the young reader to build up a picture of this distant land and its characters. It should appeal to boys and girls alike; a relatively short read with lots of action and humour.