When Tom and his family move to his grandfather's ranch, Grandpa warns Tom to stay away from Panther Peak, even though there hasn't been a panther in the area for decades. But when Tom sees a large, black creature in the mountains near their ranch, and something starts killing off their livestock, he has to wonder -- could Grandpa's tales about panthers be true?
One winter morning Tom sees a dark shape move silently through the fog, spooking the animals in the barn. Later that day Tom and his grandfather are home alone when a blizzard hits and Grandpa is injured in an accident. With the phone lines dead, Tom must take his horse and ride for help -- by himself -- through the panther's territory. Can he reach safety in time to save his grandfather before the panther strikes again?
Bill Wallace grew up in Oklahoma. Along with riding their horses, he and his friends enjoyed campouts and fishing trips. Toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories to scare one another, and catching fish was always fun. One of the most memorable trips took place on the far side of Lake Lawtonka, at the base of Mt. Scott. He and his best friend, Gary, spent the day shooting shad with bow and arrows, cutting bank poles, and getting ready to go when their dads got home from work.
Although there was no "monster" in Lake Lawtonka, one night there was a "sneak attack" by a rather large catfish tail. Checking the bank poles was not nearly as fun or "free" after that point, but it was the inspiration for this story. Bill Wallace has won nineteen children's state awards and been awarded the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Children's Literature from the Oklahoma Center for the Book.