Where the Red Fern Grows
The Story of Two Dogs and A BoyBook - 1996
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.
Praise for Where the Red Fern Grows
A Top 100 Children's Novel, School Library Journal ' s A Fuse #8 Production
A Must-Read for Kids 9 to 14, NPR
Winner of Multiple 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 critics
AgeAdd Age Suitability
Always_a_MarySue thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over
Orange_Horse_142003 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99
Frightening or Intense Scenes: There are a couple. Someone accidentally gets killed in chapter 13.
SummaryAdd a Summary
The adult Billy Colman narrates his childhood memories. Living with his Papa and Mama and three sisters in the Ozark Mountains in Oklahoma, all 10-year-old Billy wants is two hounds with whom he can hunt "coons" (raccoons). His family cannot afford them, however, so Billy works odd jobs for two years and saves up the money to buy them. Only then does he tell his plan to his Grandpa, who helps arrange the purchase.
After an initial adventure in which they scare off a mountain lion, Billy and his two hounds - a small, intelligent female dog he names Little Ann and a stronger, determined male dog he calls Old Dan - are inseparable. They learn all the angles of coon hunting and make a great team; no wily coon can outsmart Little Ann, and Old Dan is strong and sure. More than that, the dogs seem bonded to each other, and to Billy, in mysterious ways. Both dogs' lives are endangered at different points, but with bravery and intelligence they all help each other out of jams.
One day, the cruel, trouble-making Pritchard boys bet Billy that his dogs, whose reputations grow with each new coonskin, cannot "tree" (chase up a tree, at which point the hunter usually chops down the tree) the elusive "ghost coon" in their neck of the woods. On the hunt, the elder Rubin accidentally falls on Billy's ax as he tries to kill Billy's dogs (who are fighting the Pritchards' dog). The incident haunts Billy.
To cheer Billy up, Grandpa enters him in a championship coon hunt. Billy, Grandpa, and Papa go to the contest. Immediately, Little Ann wins the beauty contest. Billy qualifies for the championship round in which his dogs bag three coons, but a blizzard sets in as they chase away a fourth one necessary for the win. The men eventually find the half-frozen dogs circling a treed coon. When they kill the fourth coon, they win the championship and the $300 jackpot.
The family is ecstatic over Billy's success, and Mama is especially grateful for the money. But some weeks after the championship, Billy and the dogs encounter a mountain lion. The dogs save Billy's life, and they manage to kill it, but not before it inflicts serious damage on Old Dan. He dies, and without him, Little Ann loses the will to live and dies a few days later. Billy buries them next to each other and cannot understand why God took them from him.
With the money the dogs have earned over time from the coonskins and the jackpot, the family can finally move to town in the spring and the children can receive an education. On the day they move, Billy revisits his dogs' graves. He finds a red fern has sprouted up between the two mounds. He knows the Indian legend about a little boy and girl who had been lost in a blizzard and froze to death. When their bodies were found in the spring, a red fern had sprouted between them. As the legend goes, only an angel can plant the seeds of a red fern, which never dies and makes the spot sacred.
The adult Billy reflects that he would like to revisit the Ozarks and all his childhood haunts. He is sure the red fern is still there, larger now, for he believes its legend.
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