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.

This novel is in its simplest form, a story of love between a boy and his dogs. It tells of the determination of a 14 year old boy to save for two years to get himself some hunting dogs.

From the time his dogs arrive, Billy is lost. He has the purest form of puppy love for his two pups: Old Dan and Little Ann.

Together the three become a magnificent team. The dogs become some of the best coonhounds in the Ozarks and the boy becomes a fantastic hunter. They love their master and he loves them just as hard.

I have always loved this novel, no matter how many times I reread it, I take something different away from the story. The language and the imagery in the book is so powerful.

But the name of the novel brings a strange and sacred power. Heartbreak is found Where the Red Fern Grows. What is also found, however, is a beautiful story. One that is definitely worth the read.

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Spoilers and personal experience below

This is one of my favourite books. And it makes me bawl like a little girl every time I read it.

The first time I read this book I was barely a teenager. We were coming home from a camping trip and, as I always did, I was reading during the car ride. This book made me cry, but I was in a car with friends so I tried hard not to let them see. I waited until I was home to really let go.

Each time I have read this book, I have cried. Regardless I will continue to reread it over and over. The story is that breathtaking.

Dogs are mans best friend; and our world would be much darker without them.

Woodrow Wilson Rawls, (September 24, 1913 – December 16, 1984) was an American writer best known for his books Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys.

When Rawls was 16, the United States economy entered the Great Depression, prompting his family to leave their Oklahoma home for California; however, the family’s convertible broke down near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Rawls’s father found a job at the local toothpaste factory.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Rawls became a carpenter and traveled to South America, Canada, and Alaska. He wrote five manuscripts during this period, including Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls’s original manuscripts contained many spelling and grammatical errors and no punctuation. Because of this, he kept the manuscripts hidden in a trunk in his father’s workshop.

Rawls served time in prison twice while in Oklahoma. In 1940, in New Mexico, he again served time for breaking and entering and was sentenced to 2 to 3 years.

In the late 1950s, Rawls worked for a construction company on a guided missile range in the Southwest. Later, he transferred to a construction site near Idaho Falls to work on a contract for the Atomic Energy Commission. Rawls lived in a cabin near Mud Lake. While working there, Rawls met his future wife, Sophie Ann Styczinski, a budget analyst for the Atomic Energy Commission. The couple married on August 23, 1958.

Rawls wrote the novels Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys. Even though Rawls’s novels received much praise, he was perhaps most influential as a motivational speaker. Rawls visited 2,000 schools in 22 states before being diagnosed with cancer in 1983. Although Rawls and his wife had no children, he felt that he had many children in his fans. He once commented, “Children are always asking me what advice I can give them on trying to be a writer. I always tell them to do a lot of reading, read and study creative writing, then start writing and keep writing and then they can be a writer too. Someday they will make it if they don’t give up.”

The only audience of his first sand-scribbled stories was his pet, a Bluetick Coonhound.

biography from Wikipedia

Statue of characters in “Where The Red Fern Grows” at the Public Library in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Entitled ‘”Dreams Can Come True” Wilson Rawls author of Where The Red Fern Grows.’ Sculpture by Marilyn Hoff Hansen

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