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Where the Red Fern Grows Paperback – September 1, 1996
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Author Wilson Rawls spent his boyhood much like the character of this book, Billy Colman, roaming the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma with his bluetick hound. A straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip storyteller with a searingly honest voice, Rawls is well-loved for this powerful 1961 classic and the award-winning novel Summer of the Monkeys. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to "tree" the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. This unforgettable classic belongs on every child's bookshelf. (Ages 9 and up) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Where the Red Fern Grows
A Top 100 Children’s Novel, School Library Journal
A Must-Read for Kids 9 to 14, NPR
Winner of 4 State Awards
Over 7 million copies in print!
“A rewarding book . . . [with] careful, precise observation, all of it rightly phrased.” —The New York Times Book Review
“One of the great classics of children’s literature . . . Any child who doesn’t get to read this beloved and powerfully emotional book has missed out on an important piece of childhood for the last 40-plus years.” —Common Sense Media
“An exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.” —School Library Journal
“A book of unadorned naturalness.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Written with so much feeling and sentiment that adults as well as children are drawn [in] with a passion.” —Arizona Daily Star
“It’s a story about a young boy and his two hunting dogs and . . . I can’t even go on without getting a little misty.” —The Huffington Post
“A brilliant literary work.” —TeenInk.com
“We tear up just thinking about it.” —Time on the film adaptation
From the Paperback edition.
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"I knelt down and gathered them into my arms. I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried. The stationmaster, sensing something more than two dogs and a boy, waited in silence."
My Dad didn’t grow up in the Ozarks, but he trapped animals as a young boy to raise money for a dog. Selling skins to Sears Roebuck & Co. was enough then to fulfill that dream and then later to get him enough money to fly enough hours to be conscripted (after being declared 4F) to train pilots at Americus, Georgia. When he was able to return to being a civilian pilot, the first thing he did with the money he saved was to buy another dog. On multiple levels, I felt this story to be so close to my father’s, both coming from rural, impoverished areas.
“Men, said Mr. Kyle, “people have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. One never knows what they’ll do. You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don’t. I may be wrong, but I call it love – the deepest kind of love.”
This is such a wonderful story; I highly recommend you read it. Re-read it, if you read it as a child.
"Where the Red Fern Grows" gives a good lesson for young people on how to not leave projects unfinished. I knew when I was a kid that when I started some project I didn't always finish it. The character Billy in the book however always finishes something he started. At one point he loses a lot of his time cutting down a tree to capture a raccoon. Later on, when he is in a raccoon hunting competition, he refuses to end the hunt even when bad weather comes.
The book gives an interesting view of hillbillies. As the book shows, many of them are nice people. At one point the main character Billy goes into the city to get his dogs which he has ordered. He is bullied and attacked by the local city kids who don't like the look of him and he is called "wild" by a passing woman. The book teaches that being mean to those who are less civilized is wrong.
The book also shows a somewhat darker side to the hillbilly culture. Near where Billy lives, there is a family called the Pritchards. The father of that household is rumored to have once committed murder although this is not known for sure. When Billy meets two of his sons, they are kind of mean to him. I think every family has had some lowlife guttertrash family that lives near to them, and I sure did so I knew what the author was talking about when he talked about the Pritchards.
With its story of the Ozarks and details about the Ozarks and the hillbillies, Wilson Rawls novel "Where the Red Fern Grows" both informed me and gave me a new appreciation for the hillbillies and their culture.