Hard to Have HeroesBook - 2012
When fourteen-year-old wannabe cowboy Noah Odell and his widowed mother leave rainy Gold Hill, Oregon, to join Noah's flamboyant uncle Bud on a ranch in New Mexico, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere with daily temperatures in excess of 100 degrees; enough rattlesnakes, buzzards, and hungry coyotes to start a zoo; a dozen scrawny steers; and a smelly outdoor toilet overrun with black widow spiders.
When Bud presents Noah with a cantankerous mule named Brimstone, the adventures begin. Accompanied by his new best friends--an unlikely cowboy philosopher named Marvin Couch and a precocious tomboy prodigy named LaDonna Hawthorne--Noah and his mule encounter some of the Chihuahuan Desert's strangest characters. Green space monsters, eccentric Apache college professors, jackalopes, royal Spanish ghosts, and an inept gang of local bullies assure that the days are never dull, especially when the U.S. Army lawyers and MPs try to confiscate Bud's ranch to expand a top-secret rocket-testing facility at nearby White Sands Proving Ground.