Whichaway

Random House  ISBN  0-394-81822-9

Borzoi Books, Alfred Knopf Publishers  
ISBN  0-679-82022-1

Rising Moon Books, Northland Publishing
ISBN  0-87358-675-1 (hard cover) and 676-x (soft cover)*

Click here to read the first pages of Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout’s survival tale of a teenaged boy with both legs broken trapped atop an old wooden windmill at the far end of a huge Prescott, Arizona, ranch in 1923. Whichaway is the boy’s nickname and nobody knows whichaway he’s gone? Will he survive the calamitous events which befall him the next couple days stuck thirty feet up  in the air without water? This exceptional story has been published by 3 different publishers over the decades and been optioned 3 times by producers hoping to make a low-budget family film of this classic Western story. 

WhichawayIt gets bone lonesome being the only boy on a remote Arizona ranch. No wonder Whichaway's always talking to himself or his horse. No wonder he forgets things, has trouble concentrating, and tends to wander off into the blue. Why else would he take a notion to ride out to a sinister place like Crazy Men Mesa -- especially when a storm's brewing?

The next thing he knows, a huge dust devil strikes the windmill he's greasing, leaving Whichaway stranded 30 feet off the ground on a wooden platform with two broken legs. What will he do? Nobody knows where he is except a couple of cattle rustlers, and they've left him alone to die. The other passersby in these parts are few…and murderous. The sun brands him. Days and nights pass with no water and no rescue. The boy's world shrinks until it is as small as his own skin and skull. Even in his pain and delirium, though, one thing is clear: now would be a good time to take charge of things and learn to think like a man. For unless he gets down from this windmill somehow by himself, he is going to die . . .

Find out what a boy called Whichaway does in this exciting story of bravery and self-reliance set against a rugged Arizona landscape.

This terrific story would make a great little period Western (set in the 1920's) for kids and families, and has actually been optioned 3 different times over the years for a possible TV-Movie or low-budget feature, but film rights have reverted to the estate. Latest screenplay available from Hoodwinks Productions (310-578-5404).

Reviews

Glendon Swarthout

"With its vivid characters, its suspense, its lean writing always fresh, vigorous, and true, it may well become a minor classic."    Chicago Tribune

"It took only two pages for the story to jump the hurdles and be off and running -- and never to stop until its triumphant finish . . . This is one of the rare ones."   Publishers Weekly

"A taut, compelling story of an Arizona rancher's son who, stranded by two broken legs on a four-by-four platform of a windmill tower 30 feet above the ground, survives two days and nights of pain, thirst, hunger, fear, and desperation and finally contrives a way to get himself down and astride his horse. Vivid, incisive writing gives reality and immediacy to the narrative which perceptively reveals every thought and emotion of the inept fifteen-year-old boy through a man-making ordeal that helps him decide 'whichaway' he is going."  Booklist

"Remarkably convincing."  Saturday Review

"Whichaway is not a question readers will have to ask. Once they start this, they'll read it right through to the end without stopping or losing their place . . . Unusual and absorbing, it's a book young people can enjoy discussing."   Kirkus Reviews

"Whichaway is a fifteen-year-old ranch boy at the Box O, a spread near Prescott, Arizona, who gets stranded atop a 30-foot windmill with both legs broken and nobody but a couple of cattle rustlers for company down below. This is a terrific, good-humored story, full of the spirit of an unforgettable kid who lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned."  Dale Walker, Sunday Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado.

 

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