A young boy dreams of having pets of his own wait, scratch that to mean dogs of his own because technically they already have a pet cat Sammy I m thinking Sammy doesn t matter much to the family since the dad laughs at the cat limping with injured paws when he accidentally keeps getting his paws injured from Billy s trap At least he gets bandaged, but Sammie soon abandons the family when he develops a fear of people go figure.The first part of the book is Billy saving up money and working hard to get dogs not for companionship at first, but hunting partners and eventually he succeeds in getting both of his goals met dogs and training them to be strong hunters Seriously the book has so little plot that I was bored most of the time It s an endless cycle of Billy and his dogs hunting down poor raccoons and other animals in the valley Besides disturbing, it doesn t hold the interest.Throw in two tragedies and an unrealistic reward of money that fits the parents goals, and you have this book Plotless, it isn t a coming of age story, it s a boy who wants dogs so he can hunt raccoons.There isn t character development The mother s role in the book is to worry about her son being placed into so many dangerous situations while still letting him go intodangerous situations The sisters are mentioned all the time as being backdrops to cry on demand when they re upset but they don t earn the respect of getting any names or individual personalities I guess the girls are too alike to bother.The end tragedy is of course sad but hardly a surprise What happens is a realistic consequence of having hunting dogs that you keep placing in dangerous situations What bugged me is the author took the religious tones of the books to an unhealthy level with the father being especially annoying Spoilers for the end view spoiler When Billy and dogs achieved their goals of killing animals or escaping animals, they praised God When the tragedy strikes, he s angry at God and wondering why it happened The parents could have taken this chance to talk about the life of training hunting dogs, consequences for people s actions, but instead the father says one of the stupidest explanations and twists I ve seen that God must have allowed his dogs to be killed because the parents are moving and were going to leave Billy and the dogs behind with his grandfather, and God doesn t like separating families, so he allowed this tragedy to happen to the dogs so Billy could go with his parents Yeah, that hide spoiler Wilson Rawls classic, timeless story of a young boy s coming of age is heartbreaking, sentimental, and utterly charming An ode to love, family and the beauty of nature Set in the Ozarks, northeastern Oklahoma, Billy wants nothingthan to have a puppy, or to bespecific, two puppies He wants to train them for hunting, although his mother has forbidden him to use or own a gun until he is 21 or older For two years he waits, collecting enough money doing whatever jobs he can, he finally raises enough for two puppies who are delivered via train to the town closest to where he lives I knelt down and gathered them into my arms I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried The stationmaster, sensing somethingthan 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. A Loving Threesome, They Ranged The Dark Hills And River Bottoms Of Cherokee Country Old Dan Had The Brawn Little Ann Had The Brains, And Billy Had The Will To Make Them Into The Finest Hunting Team In The Valley Glory And Victory Were Coming To Them, But Sadness Waited Too Where The Red Fern Grows Is An Exciting Tale Of Love And Adventure You Ll Never Forget Let me say first that some love this book and to be fair I never read it except to get an idea of the story updated please read what I actually said there Any book I don t care for enough to finish will usually get a 1 star or at best a 2 You will find in my books low ratings for Black Beauty, The Yearling, Old Yeller and any books that have the pain of life motif in common By the way this includes Cold Mountain Look up my review and you ll see I try to give recognition that it s well written but just not a book I can like And these ratings are how I feel and what I think of these books Some will say how they love these books and how possibly there was just no other way to realistically end the story I grew up in the Smokies and without going over my childhood, I had 2 dogs killedshot I ve lived through the loss of beloved animals, beloved people and beloved relationshipsI don t need a novel that leads me through what pain is If a book is of the life is tough and then you die school , it s going to get a down check from me While fiction does instruct, there are some lessons I learned from life, I don t need to have them rehashed in leisure time activities.The struggle this young man faces and love he feels may in some manner mitigate the pain and loss, there are lessons and we re told that maybe what happened was for an overriding reason, but for me that does little to help what always strikes me as emotional manipulation. I read this book when I was in grade school and it always stuck out as an effortless read I still remember the storyline and the characters and the ending was magical. I knelt down and gathered them into my arms I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried The stationmaster, sensing somethingthan two dogs and a boy, waited in silence Woodrow Wilson Rawls timeless coming of age Classic is a beautifully heartbreaking story and sentimental favorite Where the Red Fern Grows explores the love between a boy and his dogs and the bond between two dogs The Disney movie was a staple of my childhood, but I m still unsure of whether or not I d ever read the book until now.Ten year old Billy grew up in the Cherokee country in northeastern Oklahoma in the rugged Ozarks He is infected with the wonderful yet terrible disease of puppy love not the kind a boy might feel for a pretty girl but the real kind for a furry, four legged friend Billy s unshakable desire to obtain two hound dogs for coon hunting dominates his existence His desire is all consuming, and he works incessantly for two years to save the exorbitant amount of fifty dollars needed to purchase the pups.I was most moved by the authenticity of the narrative There is no doubt that many of the aspects of the story are autobiographical including the setting, the knowledge of hunting, and incorporating homeschooling and farming into the plot I also enjoyed the beautiful description of the natural world that Rawls provided I heard the Bam, bam, bam of a woodpecker high in the top of a box elder snag The cry of a kingfisher and the scream of a bluejay blended perfectly with the drumlike beat A barking red squirrel, glued to the side of a hackberry tree, kept time to the music with the beat of his tail I highly recommend this novel to children of all ages, including grown ones, who have ever loved a dog or been inflicted with the dog wanting disease Billy is a wonderful example of character, especially for young children Among his admirable qualities are humility, determination, generosity, and deep love for his family ExcerptMen, 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 It s a shame that people all over the world can t have that kind of love in their hearts, he said There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder no greed or selfishness It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have a wonderful world Almost equally as interesting was the life story of the author Rawls was born in 1913 in Oklahoma He had little interest in reading until he was introduced to Jack London s The Call of the Wild He decided then to become a writer and wrote on any scraps of paper he could find The family left Oklahoma and headed for California in 1935 during the Depression and ended up settling in New Mexico after their car broke down In 1958 when Rawls became engaged, he burned all of his manuscripts because he was ashamed of his writing and lack of formal education When his wife Sophie learned of his dream, she encouraged him to rewrite his story She corrected his grammar and punctuation, and Where the Red Fern Grows was published in 1961. We finished it I read this aloud with my kids and as I read through the final sentences, we were all in tears I am not talking teary eyes, but body rocking sobs My six year old did not stop for almost twenty minutes When he was finished he said it was the greatest story he had ever heard My eight year old wanted to meet the author and thank him for such a great book I loved this book and recommend it to everyone Just read it with a box of tissues nearby. Excellent story Heartwarming and spiritual this is one of my favorite books in all the land i read it at least a million times when i was little, and it holds such a special place in my heart, i can t even begin to review it having said all that, there are those who have a problem with the ending, because let s just say it s fairly devastating so, as a band aid to the heart of monica , i have rewritten the ending to make it a littlejolly with all apologies to wilson rawls, whose ending i thought was spectacular, allow me to present THE WAY Where the Red Fern Grows SHOULD HAVE ENDED AND NOW DOES view spoiler The fourth time they treed, they were on top of a mountain After the long chase, I figured the animal was winded and would stay in the tree In a trot I started to them.As I neared the tree, Little Ann came to me, reared up, and whined By her actions, I knew something was wrong I stopped In the moonlight, I could see Old Dan sitting on his haunches, staring up at the tree and bawling.The tree had lots of dead leaves on it I knew it was a large white oak because it is one of the last trees in the mountains to lose its leaves.Old Dan kept bawling Then he did something he had never done before For seconds his deep voice was still, and silence settled over the mountains My eyes wandered from the tree to him His lips were curled back and he snarled as he stared into the dark foliage of the tree His teeth gleamed white in the moonlight The hair on his neck and along his back stood on end A low, deep, rumbling growl rolled from his throat.I was scared and I called to him I wanted to get away from there Again I called, but it was no use He wouldn t leave the tree, for in his veins flowed the breeded blood of a hunting hound In his fighting heart, there was no fear I set the lantern down and tightened my grip on the handle of the boombox Slowly I started walking toward him I thought, If I can get close enough to him, I can grab his collar I kept my eyes on the tree as I edged forward Little Ann stayed by my side She, too, was watching the tree Then I saw them two burning, yellow eyes staring at me from the shadowy foliage of the tree I stopped, petrified with fear.The deep baying of Old Dan stopped and again the silence closed in.I stared back at the unblinking eyes.I could make out the bulk of a large animal, crouched on a huge branch, close to the trunk of the big tree Then it moved I heard the scratch of razor sharp hooves on the bark It stood up and moved out of the shadows on to the limb I saw it clearly as it passed between the moon and me I knew what it was It was the devil unicorn of the Ozarks.The silence was shattered by one long, loud bawl from Old Dan I d never heard my dog bawl like that It was different His voice rang out over the mountains, loud and clear The vibration of the deep tones rolled in the silence of the frosty night, on and on, out over the flats, down in the canyons, and died away in the rimrocks like the cry of a lost soul Old Dan had voiced his challenge to the unicorn There was a low cough and a deep snort from the unicorn I saw him crouch I knew what was coming.Dance off.My hands felt hot and sweaty on the smooth handle of the boombox With a blood curdling whinny he sprang from the tree with limbs outspread and long, yellow horn bared Old Dan didn t wait Rearing up on his hind legs, he met the unicorn in the air and busted out a smooth pop lock the groove rolled him over and over He wound up in a fallen treetop.The impact of his classic moves threw the unicorn off balance Little Ann darted in Her aim was true I heard the snap of her paws as she deployed a full out Harlem Shake.With a squall of awe and rage, the unicorn spun around and began rocking his pelvis, performing some advanced booty pops His right hoof reached out and curved over his shoulder, in a what you got taunt Sinews tightened Little Ann executed a pas de beurre into a jazz square blowing his mind with this bizarre combo Old Dan, stunned for an instant from the impact of her footwork, fought his way from the treetop Bawling the cry of the damned, he charged back in I went berserk, and charged into the crew.There in the flinty hills of the Ozarks, I fought for the honor of my dogs I fought with the only weapon I had the dance.Screaming like a madman, with tears running down my face, I did the Running Man, the Cabbage Patch, the Humpty Hump at the big twerking unicorn Once, feeling the bite of my Roger Rabbit, the unicorn turned on me His yellow slitted eyes burned with hate The long, lithe body dipped low to the ground The shoulder muscles knotted and bulged as it negotiated a textbook Worm I tried to jump back, but my foot slipped and I dropped to my knees I knew I was trapped With a terrifying scream he sprang in a death spiral pirouette I never saw my dogs when they got between the unicorn and me, but they were there Side by side, they rose up from the ground as one They sailed straight into that horn of death, their small, red bodies taking the frantic krumping meant for me I screamed and charged back into the battle, swinging my arms, but I was careful not to disrupt the groove of my dogs.The battle raged on and on, down the side of the mountain, over huckleberry bushes, fallen logs, and rocks It was a rolling, tumbling mass of dancing fury I was in the middle of it all, falling, screaming, crying and Crip Walking at every opportunity I had impressed the unicorn several times Sweat ran through its mane, but as yet I had not busted that decisive move I knew it had to be soon for my dogs were no match against the freestyle mastery of the unicorn The screams of the unicorn and the deep bellowing voices of my dogs echoed through the mountains as if the beat box of hell had been turned loose Down the side of the mountain, the terrible competition went on, down to the very bottom of the canyon The unicorn had Old Dan by the balls Figuratively I knew he was looking to own him with the all important move the moonwalk At the pitiful bawl of Old Dan, Little Ann, throwing caution to the wind, ran in and began an uprock sequence with burns that I had never seen from her before With her claws digging into the mountain soil, she braced herself, and started pulling The muscles in her small legs knotted and quivered She was trying hard to pull off a routine that would end this once and for all In the rays of a bright Ozark moon, I could see clearly For an instant I saw the broad back of the big unicorn I saw the knotty bulge of steel bound muscle, the piston like jerk of the deadly hind legs, trying for the moonwalk that could disembowel a dog Again, figuratively Raising the boombox high over my head, like John Cusack, I blasted a beat I knew would inspire Ann to funktastery My aim was true The beats cleaved through the tension They seemed to hiss as they sliced their way through the dancers Ann began to spin, faster and faster The unicorn broke eye contact with Old Dan With a scream of pain, he reared up on his hind legs and started pawing at the air But it was too late Ann was in the zone Her eyes were shut tight and her small feet were digging and clawing in the dirt All of a sudden, she began to levitate, rising high in the air Her long, red body sailed and twirled in between the hooves of the gasping unicorn.The unicorn screamed again Sweat gurgled and sprayed In a rainbow colored mist, it rained out over the underbrush and rattled like sleet on the white oak leaves.In a boxer s stance, he stood and clawed at the air His slitted eyes turned green with hate He seemed to be unaware that the battle was over, and kept staring at me I stood in a trance and stared back at Little Ann s vertical ascent The expectation of triumph was slowly leaving him He had been schooled but was refusing to go down My boombox continued to churn out fat beats A shudder ran through his body He tried once again to moonwalk But it was too late It was the end of the trail for the scourge of the dance Nowould he scream his challenge from the rimrocks to the valley below The small, harmless calves and the young colts would be safe from his Boogaloo He fell toward me It seemed that with his last effort he was still trying to step to me And then, abruptly, his hooves struck the ground With a final snort, he tossed his mane in defeat, and slitted his eyes at the still spinning, still levitating Little Ann Scowling at each of us in turn, he whinnied as if to say, You win this one, but this is not over For realz, and galloped off into the frosty darkness.Ann s rotations began to slow as she corkscrewed down to the ground again Panting, Old Dan ran to her and sniffed her all over, his tail wagging furiously I lowered the boombox, pressed the Stop button, and the sounds of the forest returned in the ensuing calm Well, that was close I declared as Little Ann and Old Dan wrapped up their olfactory celebration They turned to me with great doggie grins, their tails red blurs behind them Who wants kibbles I asked my beloved pets.And then the three of us lived forever and ever and ever the end. hide spoiler I read this book in sixth grade and cried my twelve year old heart out Another book I share with my sixth grade students What I find is that this book in particular allows the boys in my class to get emotional about a story and be able to talk about it together and normalize it It is almost a contest for them of who got most upset One student said he finished it on a plane ride home and that the flight attendant kept coming up to him asking him if he was alright I ve had many students tell me this is the best book they have ever read and I am glad that I get to share it with them each year I would love to do this as a read aloud but I know I wouldn t be able to get through it Just the part where Billy meets his dogs for the first time gets me.