Book Reviews

As sweet as apple pie and as pure as Christmas

Somehow I’ve gone my whole life until now without reading Wilson Rawls’s classic Where the Red Fern Grows. My wife recently began reading it to our children, and that is what motivated me to get into it myself. Tonight I ended up finishing it well before they did, and I have to say that I really loved it. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book as a boy. I certainly relished it as a man (although I think I have something in my eye).

In her introduction to the story, Clare Vanderpool describes the book this way:

Wilson Rawls’s beloved tale taps into the wellspring that runs deep in all of us—the desire for adventure, discovery, room to wander, and the “real love” that exists between a boy and his dogs…

Billy Colman is the kid we all wish we still were: aspiring, hopeful, steadfast. The kind who braves frigid temperatures on a nighttime hunt in the remote hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country, holds his own in a skirmish with the town kids, and takes on the challenge of treeing the elusive “ghost coon” in an all-night vigil. He is also that special kind of kid who is brought to tears by feeling that he has let his dogs down. Billy’s “dog-wanting disease” takes him on a journey of courage and discovery that beckons to the kid, the dreamer, and the dog-lover in all of us.

And what wonderful dogs they are. From the first time we lay eyes on the two floppy-eared pups at the train station in Tahlequah, we know these dogs. Little Ann is smart, playful, and sweet—”she could make friends with a tomcat.” And Old Dan—impulsive, friendly, and loyal—”would not hunt with another hound, other than Little Ann.”

This book is not for cynics. It’s as sweet as apple pie and as pure as Christmas. It is a book for someone who likes his stories good and true—which means your kids will love it. I am eager to share it with mine. Highly recommended.