I thought at first glance that Pulling Together by beloved children’s author Dawn L. Watkins might be just another and-the-ranch-was-saved story. But I was delighted to find rare elements that raise it to a much higher plane. Although told from the perspective of Matthew, the younger of John and Addie Briggs’s two sons, the real hero of Pulling Together is a strong, God-fearing father figure. John Briggs’s faith comes to light in his family’s severe trial and radiates in some way from every page.
When the family barn─one of the most essential elements to their early-twentieth-century sustenance─is struck by lightning and engulfed in flames, this father immediately takes the reigns. With the brave command of a modern superhero, Mr. Briggs saves what he can and resigns to God, without complaint, what he can’t. But young Matthew despairs when he finds out that to offset their losses they may have to sell one of the family’s two beloved workhorses.
Reflecting his father’s resourcefulness and strength of character, Matthew hatches a plan that, if successful, will enable them to keep the horses. He works hard and hopes big. With an eye to entering his well-matched team in the horse pull at the Cherry Springs fair, he sets the stage for the story’s dramatic conclusion.
Competition day finally arrives, and nerves are put to the test. In contrast to the humble integrity of Matthew’s horses is a flamboyant team of large, muscular show horses. The “Baily Grays” don’t appear to be workhorses as specified in the entry guidelines, and reflecting the temperamental nature of their owner, they present a formidable foe. But Matthew sees his father’s calm trust remain steadfast in spite of all that is at stake.
The story’s exciting ending raises yet another interesting question about the impact of one man’s faith. Are John Briggs’s strength and patience so powerful that even his horses reflect their influence? In an age starved for positive role models, this novel published by JourneyForth decidedly delivers. It’s a rare treat for young boys everywhere.
Click on “Look Inside the Book” to read Chapter 1 from Pulling Together.