Cover image for Walker's Crossing
Walker's Crossing
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
232 pages ; 22 cm
While living on his family's ranch in Wyoming where he hopes to someday be a cowboy, Ryan faces conflicts with his older brother who becomes involved in a militia movement.
General Note:
"A Jean Karl book."
Reading Level:
830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 8.0 32449.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.3 14 Quiz: 19671 Guided reading level: X.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Ryan wants just one thing: to be a cowboy -- a working cowboy -- on the large Saddlebow Ranch in Wyoming, where he and his family live. Ryan, a tall seventh-grader, knows the dangers of ranch life: Once his father was cow boss, but now, after an injury, he is simply the ranch caretaker, seeing that fences are mended and watching over the family's few head of cattle. Even so, Ryan does not change his mind.However, Ryan's older brother, Gil, sees dangers greater than injury ahead. He and the men who belong to the Mountain Patriots Association, a local militia group, are convinced that the United States government, foreign immigrants, and people who are racial minorities are going to take over the area. Not without a fight, however: The Mountain Patriots are armed for battle. It will take men, real men like them, Gil believes, to save their part of the West for the white race.As the ranching community becomes increasingly divided between those who accept the views of the Mountain Patriots and those who do not, Ryan is torn. Is Gil right? Some of what he says sounds logical. Or are those who disagree, but who also sound sensible, right?Clearly, confrontation and disaster are on the way. Ryan does not plan to be in the middle of it when it comes, but that is where he finds himself. And that is where, as a consequence, he learns what it really means to be a man, what it takes to build a good future, and how to find your place in a changing world.

Author Notes

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was born in Anderson, Indiana on January 4, 1933. She received a bachelor's degree from American University in 1963. Her first children's book, The Galloping Goat and Other Stories, was published in 1965. She has written more than 135 children and young adult books including Witch's Sister, The Witch Returns, The Bodies in the Bessledorf Hotel, A String of Chances, The Keeper, Walker's Crossing, Bernie Magruder and the Bats in the Belfry, Please Do Feed the Bears, and The Agony of Alice, which was the first book in the Alice series. She has received several awards including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Night Cry and the Newberry Award for Shiloh.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-12. If not for his towering size, shy Ryan Walker would be overlooked by the preoccupied members of his family, who live on a Wyoming ranch. Ryan's bedridden father is only interested in nursing his bad back; his depressed mother is indifferent to her children's dreams; his sister is courting the community because she wants to be crowned Rodeo Queen; and his older brother, Gil, has joined a militia group bent on preserving a simple life and driving away "undesirables." Bigotry and hatred escalate tragically, with Ryan left to sift through the rubble of dissenting philosophies to determine for himself how to be loyal to his community's past and still accept the inevitability of change. In this, Naylor's 100th book, the author is in top form, maintaining a firm hand to prevent her gritty theme from going too far for young readers. What distinguishes her novel from the many that explore this theme is the believable rationale offered by the antagonists: Gil remains one-dimensional and maniacal throughout the story, but dissenting adults argue with conviction both for compassion and against change. Such depth makes even the most cold-hearted action a believable (if not morally acceptable) result of desperation and fear. It is the tragic chain of events that is the heart of the story. In a good community of loving people, how does something so disastrous start? It's a valid question, dramatically and satisfyingly answered. --Roger Leslie

Publisher's Weekly Review

Naylor here tackles the timely subject of militia movements. PW wrote, "The issues and the characters are developed fairly and the plot builds solidly past a surprise climax to a credibly optimistic resolution." Ages 10-14. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-Ryan Walker is the middle son of a Wyoming ranching family, cast in the shadow by his charismatic if aimless older brother, Gil. Ryan longs to be a rancher, but his pure love of the West is tested when the white-supremacist Mountain Patriots Association begins to harass a local family. When his best friend follows his parents' strict racial prejudices, Ryan is stunned to find blatant racism in his school and town. He must struggle to discern fact from slander, the importance of emotional ties, and the fine line between teasing and cruelty. Naylor has written a gripping testament to the basic, if little-exercised, freedoms of those in the United States, freedoms that must intrinsically be balanced with tolerance. Ryan gradually discovers the maturity that comes from accepting that one's beliefs and values can differ from those of friends and family. Casual cruelty and racism of the children and adults in the area is competently portrayed, while a teacher's delightfully calm encouragement of violently opposing views in her classroom is satisfying if unrealistic at times. Ryan's solemn father, convinced that his older son's beliefs are a phase, occasionally seems ill cast against the boys' racist mother. The nature of the story requires the included racially offensive language and violence, which is occasionally shocking. An exciting, important study of the need for individuals to claim and defend their beliefs while defending the freedoms of others as well.-Mary B. McCarthy, ACLIN/Colorado State Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-9-Phyllis Reynolds Naylor tackles the topic of bigotry through the experiences of seventh-grader Ryan Walker. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.