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The Adventures of Wilder Good, Books 1-4 Review by Jennifer KingS.J. Dahlstrom
My two boys are as different as night and day. One loves to read; the other is a very reluctant reader. One of my boys loves all things outdoors; the other prefers to watch and play games inside. Yet both were so excited and involved in every page of The Adventures of Wilder Good. There are four books in this series and we were so very blessed to receive every one of them.
Author S.J. Dahlstrom lives in West Texas with his family; this is his first book series, and it is a fun one! His books are inspired by his own experience as a founder of the Whetstone Boys Ranch in Missouri. He writes “for kids who grew up in the outdoors . . . for kids who long for the outdoors . . . working, fishing, hunting, farms, ranches, mountains, and prairies. I think all kids want to do these things and go to these places.”
The adventure begins with The Elk Hunt; meet Wilder Good and his mentor Gale Loving, who is his kind mentor and guide. Living in Colorado, we read about their many adventures hunting and exploring the wilderness. There are also lessons within about the building of relationships and being courageous and strong. In this book, we learn about gun safety as they hunt for elk, and also watch them overcome the many trials they face as they are hunting.
In Texas Grit (Book 2), Wilder is visiting his grandfather’s ranch while his mother is being treated for cancer. This is a touching, sweet story that shares the challenges that Wilder faces, the love his rough and gruff grandfather has for him, and the value of hard work. This one has my younger son itching to visit a ranch.
In Book 3, Wilder and Sunny, I think my oldest son was most intrigued and involved as we read. In this book, we follow Wilder, who is exploring that difficult time between being a child and being a young adult. That stage in between, growing up, is awkward and tough. My oldest son is there right now. And so many times I saw his eyes light up a bit; I watched as he nodded his head a bit while we read. Even the introduction of a secret girlfriend (Sunny) resonated with my son who has his first “love” after returning from summer camp. What fun this one was to read, and how reassuring it was for my oldest that he is not alone.
When we began reading The Green Colt, we were all a bit sad because this is the fourth (the last) book in this series. By now, we were good friends with Wilder. We were feeling quite akin to him really. In this one, his grandfather gifts him with the green colt, not really green of course. What a challenge Wilder faces though as he begins to break the colt. And what powerful lessons he learns in the process. With Mexican, cowboy heritage woven throughout this book, the story was full of lessons to be learned: responsibility and the power and struggles of growing up into a young man.
I have to say it has been a very long time since I have read a newly written book with my children that I was so pleased with. Although this is not a classic, it ought to be right alongside those age-old books. These pages are full of those values and lessons that our children need. Rife with adventure, these also share and show the value of relationships. The importance of honesty, of facing and overcoming fears, and the challenges that we will all face as we go from child to young adult. This is a series every little boy, every young man, would do well to read at least once. Maybe two or three times.
Your boys will love and be inspired by Wilder and his adventures!
-Product review by Jennifer King, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017