Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls

Summary: For fans of Old Yeller and Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows is a beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between man and man’s best friend.
   Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.

   Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.  (Summary and image from goodreads.com)

Review: WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, is one of the best books I have ever read. I would read it whenever I had free time. By all my free time I mean half of school!
I would recommend it for a person who is wanting a hunting dog. But I'm warning you, the end made me cry.

I would rate this book a full five stars, because of Billy working for two years to get Old Dan and Little Ann by selling minnows, fur, and berries. Also because of his dogs winning many competitions including a beauty contest and a raccoon hunting championship. 

That was my son, Charlie, who recently finished this book.  Since I made him read it, I had to reread it and review it.  

My Review:  I don't care what anyone says, this book is a classic.  It's one of the first books that has ever made me cry (definitely not the last), one of the first books that changed me, and one of the first books I thought I'd shield my son from.  However, we've had a development in our family.  My son recently contracted a serious case of Puppy Fever.   It was bad.  He smuggled the Dog Bible to school and over a few days, he compiled a list of seventeen breeds that interested him.  He researched and researched, narrowed it down, and came to my husband and me with his findings -- he needed a redbone coonhound.  It was a need, not a want.  He started cleaning his room and vacuuming.  He made a bed for his puppy.  We told him that if he wanted to even consider a coonhound, he had to read this book.  So we tried to get it for him. 

In the meantime, my husband, who has had Puppy Fever for a while, found a redbone breeder a few hours from us.  She has a good reputation, and we contacted her to see if we could just expose our kids to the breed, since we've never seen one in real life before.  As you may have guessed, I lost my mind on the way to the breeder's and we came home with our own little redbone coonhound puppy.

Charlie devoured Where the Red Fern Grows once it arrived.  He'd smuggle his puppy into his room, cheat on his bedtime, and read.  He was entranced.  Without my knowing, he took it to school. And when he said he cried, he did.  He snuggled his pup, he climbed into my lap and felt all of the emotions that this stupid book inflicts upon its readers.  And then he asked me for another puppy.  (I didn't feel bad saying no.)

Can I just say, this last week has made reading this darn book that much harder?  I sat down to read, and this warm, wiggling little red doggy came and curled up against my leg to chew her bone.  I don't know if it was the presence of a coonhound, or the fact that I'm now a mother, but I cried my makeup off before the final showdown.  I love how simply written this book is.  It is so easy to imagine that I'm sitting next to a roaring fire in a cabin listening to my grandfather tell this story.  And it doesn't matter how many times I read this book, I get choked up when Billy finally gets his pups.  I get excited during their first hunt.  I want to go watch Ol' Dan and Lil' Ann do their thing.  It makes me want to explore the Ozarks.  

There's no denying that this book is a classic.  I don't know anyone who hasn't cried and fallen in love with this trio.  It's heartbreaking, it's uplifting, it's simple and beautiful and holds a more special place in my heart now that we have our own little coonhound running around.  This is a book that will never become outdated.

Rating: Five stars.  I'm with my son on this one.

For the Sensitive Reader:  There is an altercation between two bullies and Billy that ends in the death of one of the boys.  Billy has a run-in with some town kids.  And the last scenes -- you will need tissues.  It's hard to read and never gets easier.

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