By Wilson Rawls
Published by Doubleday (original publisher)
This is a wonderful piece of fiction that takes place in the 1920s. The story, which was published in the early 1960’s, is about a special friendship between a boy and his two dogs and the adventures they share.
Billy is a determined young boy living near the Ozarks mountain range in Minnesota. His family lives in a small but comfortable wooden cabin in the woods just outside of town. What Billy wants most of all are two dogs, but not just any dogs. He wants two coonhounds. Whenever he goes to his grandfather’s store, he hears the men talking about dogs and hunting. They share hunting stories, some true and some far-fetched, and hearing the men talk and trade stories only makes him want hounds even more. So, when he finds an advertisement for Redbone Hound puppies, he is determined to save up enough money – even if it takes two years!
Once Billy gets his dogs, he starts training them to hunt and they go on many exciting adventures, such as chasing raccoons through the woods. Billy’s grandfather even enters them into a coon hunting championship. But their biggest adventure takes place when they meet a mountain lion.
This book is about perseverance and friendship. Billy spent more than two years doing odd jobs like selling fruit to earn enough money to buy the dogs. And he spent many months teaching them to become the best hunting dogs in the Ozarks. Also, it was obvious that Billy and the dogs loved each other. The dogs always shared their treats between them and waited for each other before eating them, and they always followed Billy everywhere.
This book actually has a sad ending. The author connects you to some of the characters, but then sad things happen to them. You don’t realize how much you care for the characters until the ending. Most kid’s books today have happy endings, so this one is unique in that way. I think the ending makes you feel like you know Billy and the dogs even more.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful story for kids ages 9-13.