Rereading: OUTLAWS OF THE SOURLAND by Keith Robertson

John Michelson and his family have a small farm in central New Jersey in the area north of Princeton known as The Sourlands, or Sourland Mountain, a last line of piled up rock before the flatlands to the south, though really more of a hill than a mountain. John’s father raises chickens, and John is raising sheep to help fund his plans for college next year. Those plans are dashed when a pack of wild dogs kills most of the lambs in his herd one night. John’s father is able to shoot and kill one of the pack, the rest get away, and John’s father falls and breaks his hip in the effort.

That also changes the plan, as John realizes he needs to stay home this coming year to work the farm until his father can get back on his feet. Meanwhile, finding and killing the wild dog pack becomes his obsession, and he gets help from his friend Allan, who has a home-built truck that can go anywhere, as well as elderly mountain man Zeke Dobble, who has seen the leader of the pack, a strong red-coated and wily beast who looks more like a wolf than a dog. John also gets help from a new friend, neighbor Professor Danville, who hires him to help explore the mountain and its wildlife he wants to write a book about.

Things become more complicated and dangerous when John finds out some of his lambs were actually stolen, and other farm animals have been too. John gets on the trail of the thief, and tracking him down becomes his second obsession, and one that puts he and Allan in far more danger.

This is a fine, action-filled adventure story, and based on a real area of my own state that I knew little about. I loved it as a young reader, and it holds up well, though the hunting and trapping John takes on don’t appeal to me now. Recommended.

Outlaws of the Sourland by Keith Robertson

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