Long ago I picked up A. S. Fleischman's Gold Medal novels. I enjoyed the ones I read, but I didn't put Fleischman in the top rank of Gold Medal writers. About 20 years ago, I discovered that he'd reinvented himself as an author of children's books and gone on to win just about every award available. I picked up one of the books and immediately became a fan. The other day I ran across one I hadn't read, Chancy and the Grand Rascal. Naturally I snapped it up.
Teenaged Chancy, whose father died in the Civil War and whose mother died soon afterward, was separated from his younger brother and sister. He's fond of the family that took him in, but now he's off to find his siblings, pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with food and his meager possessions. Along the way, as is the usual thing in stories like this, he'll encounter adventures and rascals, but there are some good folks too. One of the latter is his uncle, the Grand Rascal, Will Buckthorn, who claims that he "can out-laugh, out-exaggerate and out-rascal any man this side of the Big Muddy, and twice as many on the other!" He can, too, and he has other talents and abilities, including being able to bend a rifle barrel over his knee.
Some adventures occur on land, some on an island, some on a steamboat, and some on a raft. They're all fun and funny, as Fleischman gives a real tall-tale flavor to everything. And in a Fleischman novel, you can count on all the plot threads coming together neatly before the end. I get a big kick out of his books, and if I run across another one I haven't read, I'll grab that one, too.