Thursday, January 31, 2013

Zane Grey's Birthday: Western Novels

Today is Zane Grey's birthday. He'd be turning 141. Zane Grey popularized the genre of the Western. Fun Fact: Zanesville, OH is named after his grandfather.

Anyway, in honor of Zane Grey, here are some Westerns for teens. (I've never actually read any Zane Grey, so I can't say if his work has teen appeal, so he's not on the list.)


Which Way to the Wild West?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About Westward Expansion by Steve Sheinkin. This more for the tween end of the spectrum, but it's a fun and funny look at the history of Western expansion. It's wide-ranging and accessible, but never boring.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. This history of Westward Expansion is told from the side of the people's who were already living there. Each chapter focuses on another tribe as it moves through time. A classic work, I like this edition because it has maps, which are very useful in a book that covers this geographical range.

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tillburg Clark. This classic novel turns many Western novel conventions on their head as it examines mob mentality with the lynching of innocent men. Published for adults, it's often taught in high schools.

Shane by Jack Schaefer. Although this classic was published for adults, it's a teen favorite, helped by the fact it's narrated by a young person. Bob's family is homesteading in Wyoming, but rancher Fletcher wants Bob's family and the other homesteaders out. When Shane rides into town and helps Bob's family around the farm, they just might have a chance against Fletcher, at at survival.


Year of the Horse by Justin Allen. Yen Tzu-lu is sent on a Western adventure to help recover a stolen mine. In an alternate West populated with characters and themes from Americana, this is a western with a twist of fantasy.

Written in Blood by John Wilson. This slim volume is full with action as Jim Doolen travels from his Canadian home to Mexico, searching for news of his missing father. The first in a trilogy, the second is Ghost Moon.

Bloody Chester by JT Petty and Hilary Florido. In this full-color graphic novel, Chester is a scrawny teenager trying to survive in the brutal world of the Wild West. He gets a break when he gets a job to burn down a ghost town to make room for the railroad--only to find that people still live there and they're not about to leave.


Gun Blaze West , Vol. 1 by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Viu Bannes is set on becoming the best gunslinger in the West. To further this goal, he sets off to find Gun Blaze West, a mythical land that will guarantee he is the best--if he can survive it. This manga series is only three volumes long.

Black Storm Comin' by Diane Lee Wilson. Colton's family is stranded in Nevada, on their way to California. Needing money to pay a doctor for his mother, Colton joins the pony express, hoping it will take him to Sacramento, where he can deliver freedom papers to his aunt, an escaped slave.

True Grit by Charles Portis. Mattie may only be 14, but she's following the tracks of the man that killed her father and stole his money and horse in order to exact her revenge. Although published for adults, teens will enjoy this book. This edition even contains an afterward by Leonard Marcus and directed at teen readers.

What are your favorite teen books about the Wild West?

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