by Gary Paulsen

Paperback, 1991



Call number

PB Pau

Call number

PB Pau

Local notes

PB Pau





Laurel Leaf (1991), 192 pages


Finding a skull on a camping trip in the canyons outside El Paso, Texas, Brennan becomes involved with the fate of a young Apache Indian who lived in the late 1800s.


Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 1993)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 1993)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 1993)
Cardinal Cup (Noteworthy — 1991)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

192 p.; 4.21 inches

Media reviews

In this coming-of-age novel, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole finds the skull of an Apache boy, Coyote Runs, who was executed by soldiers in the 1860s. A "mystical link" joins the two boys and compels Brennan to defy his mother and the authorities to return the skull to an ancient "place of medicine."
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This book is an example of stereotypically presenting American Indians as the source of mystical events experienced by a non-Indian character.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member meki
This book is about a boy named Brennan who finds this skull in the Canyons and for some reason the skull is able to communicate with him.
LibraryThing member fatlamb
It was very easy for me to get drawn into this book. The story was not spectacular or mind blowing but the author did a great job in the beginning by alternating between chapters and telling the story of two boys of similar age (14 years or so) 100 years apart. The story reminds me of an old-school
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approach, it did not have any fireworks, super hero strengths, or anything that would make it catchy/trend setting.
It is a very simple story to follow, which allowed me to get to know the main character Brennan. A typical 14 year old boy, lives with his mom only, money is tight, and not the best social life. I began to really like Brennan as a person, he worked hard for his money, he wanted his mom to be happy (finding a new man), kept to himself at school, not the smartest kid but with some guidance of a teacher you can see a wealth of knowledge waiting to be tapped.
The story takes a twist and turn when out camping with his mom and others finds a skull in the desert. He takes the skull home only to find it driving him crazy in the mind. Brennan begins to conduct some research and is able to make the connection of who this skull belongs to and how it got there.

Four star-
I enjoyed the history aspect of this book (Apache Indians, U.S. Army, the research to uncover the truths about the skull). I did not think the book was boring, it did a great job describing Brennan and his living situation and his newly skull predicament, It was also easy to want to like Brennan and watch him succeed. A nice overall message, put in some hard work and good things evolve.

High School and Middle School read, a simple book enough to follow, especially for boys who have an interest in history and American Indians.
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½ (54 ratings; 3.7)
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