Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern GrowsWhere the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
Evan’s ESS = 7 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = 6 out of 10
Content = (Violence, Hunting, Bullying, Perseverance, Raccoon Slaughter)

Why: After missing the opportunity to fall in love with this novel in our youths, we did the next best thing and engaged our six year old son in a read-along.    

As a young boy growing up in the Ozarks, Billy Colman wants nothing more than a hunting dog of his own.  His family is unable to provide the necessary financial help, so Billy decides to take matters into his own hands.  For two long years of hard physical labor he scraps and scrapes the necessary funds.  However, once Billy finally gets his pups the hard work of training his hounds to hunt raccoons begins.  Does the threesome have what it takes to win the gold cup at the annual coon hunting championship or are more sinister forces at play...    

The plot of this novel is a secret to precious few people.  Where the Red Fern Grows stands proudly alongside Old Yeller as the YA novel most likely to make its readers melt into a puddle of tears.  Even though the plot held few secrets for us, the novel itself had plenty of pleasant surprises.  First, we were amazed at the novel’s depth.  The commentary on life and loss was well thought out and incredibly thought provoking.  As well, the process of Billy saving and sacrificing for his hounds left us with more than a few lessons on patience.  Second, not since Pongo and Missis have we seen a closer bond between animals displayed in literature.  How can you not fall in love with Little Ann and Old Dan (even for someone who isn’t much of a dog person... *cough* Evan *cough*)?

As previously mentioned, we got to experience this novel with our son, who just so happens to be a crazy dog lover.  Unfortunately, he has a cruel dad who won’t let him have a dog leaving him no choice but to live vicariously through literature...  Needless to say he connected with Billy at once, although he couldn’t begin to comprehend the concept of saving his money for 2 years to get something he wanted (teaching moment perhaps?).  He also struggled with the detailed coon hunting parts which did have a tendency to bog down the narrative for anyone without an ardent interest in the sport.  Overall, though he enjoyed the story and looked forward to the nightly read.  Maybe Old Yeller next?


  1. You made me want to read this again. I think you should take a break before Old Yeller -- not sure I could take those two books back to back! Thanks for the memories...

  2. I haven't read this in AGES. I need to pick it up again!