Book Review
by Daniel W.
Grade 6

Have you ever stuck to someone or something for a long enough time to form a bond or connection? Where the Red Fern Grows is a book written in 1961 by Wilson Rawls (Sep 24, 1913-Dec.16 ,1984, in Marshfield, Wisconsin), a children literature author. Rawls lived in the Ozarks during his childhood, just like Billy from Where the Red Fern Grows. His spouse was Sophie Ann Styczinski, and though he had no children, he had a pet bluetick coonhound.  He also wrote Summer of the Monkeys in 1976, and in 1983, he contracted cancer.  Main themes of Where the Red Fern Grows are loyalty, love/compassion, and determination, for Billy (the main character) stuck to his dogs for an extremely long time through many hunts. Other themes include trust in God, coping with death, and keeping calm under pressure.


Billy was a boy who lived in the Ozarks with his mother, father, and his 3 sisters during the Great Depression. His dream was to have two coon hounds. He worked very hard to get the two hounds he wanted and train them. With his hounds, (which were named Old Dan and Little Ann) he began a hobby of coon hunting. During these hunts, they occasionally met trouble and solved the problems. He has prayed to God for a solution multiple times, and his prayers have been answered again and again. Soon, they earn a reputation for hunting, and after a while they even enter a hunting competition. Are they able to prove themselves as good hunters?

Loyalty is represented in the story through the times Billy stuck to his dogs through hard times. In fact, Billy is would sacrifice his life to save his dogs, and his dogs would do the same for him. Also, in the story, it states, “He would not hunt with another hound, other than Little Ann, or another hunter, not even my father. The strangest thing about Old Dan was that he would not hunt, even with me, unless Little Ann was with him.”

Billy is completely dedicated to his dogs and went through lots of hard work to raise them. This contributes to the theme that determination pays off. The persistence Billy had did pay off, for it caused him, Old Dan, and Little Ann to both establish a bond and start a hobby. Also, Billy worked extremely hard for an extremely long time just to get his dogs. This shows that he wanted to get those dogs, no matter how long it took.

Another main theme was love or compassion, which was shown in small ways over and over again. For example, whenever one of the hounds got hurt the other would nurse it. Billy would also try to keep his hounds from pain, showing that the dogs and Billy all love each other and don’t want each other hurt.

My favorite parts of the book are the many times Billy and each of his hounds stuck together to help each other when they met predicaments while hunting. These many incidents show the groups’ loyalty and determination, and eventually they go through it. The theme of keeping calm under pressure is also in these parts, for the calmness of the characters did help solve any problems they met.

I mainly enjoyed this book because of the vivid descriptions of the many adventures Billy had with his hounds and the fact that Billy was an extremely persevere person. I’d recommend this book to those 4th grade and up, for the story has both adventurous and rather sad moments.