Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

The Story of Two Dogs and A Boy

Book - 1996
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A young boy living in the Ozarks achieves his heart's desire when he becomes the owner of two redbone hounds. When they win the annual coon-hunt contest, victory turns to tragedy and Billy's days of boyhood innocence rapidly end.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, 1996, c1961
Edition: Delacorte ed
Description: 212 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780385020596
Branch Call Number: j Rawl


From the critics

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Jul 09, 2021

Whether you’ve read it or not, Where the Red Fern Grows is one of the timeless classics in American literature. It’s an exciting, charming, and tragic tale. Billy Coleman is the main character in the story. His dream has always been to own a hunting dog. Not one, but two. Hunting dogs come at a price, a price Billy cannot afford; he slogs for 2 years until he can finally afford them. He names one Old Dan, and one Little Ann. Old Dan has the brawn, Little Ann has the brains. From there, the book details the threesome’s adventures, ranging from the dark Ozark Mountains to the river bottoms in Cherokee County. The love and trust in one another grows strongly as the story develops. The climax in the book occurs when Billy’s grandfather enrolls him and his dogs into the annual coon-hunting contest. An underdog throughout, Billy winds up victorious. The victory came at a price: Old Dan and Little Ann end up dying in the end due to the physical expenses of the contest. The story ends with the dogs being buried by Billy himself, a heartbreaking end to a seemingly jovial tale. Although tragedy is usually a gut wrenching way to cap off a story about friendship and attachment, I for one actually think it enhanced the story which pushed it to a Best-Seller status. My only problem with the story is that at times it can move slowly; the author adds too much context and the wordiness is bothersome for the uncomplicated instances in the book. Despite that, still there is so much to admire and enjoy with this book. Simply put, I believe if you have the chance, you most definitely should read Where the Red Fern Grows.

Jun 01, 2021

Billy dreams of having hunting dogs. But, good hunting dogs are pricey! For two years Billy saves up $50 to buy two redbone coonhounds! He tells Grandpa about the money he’s been saving. He gets his dogs and goes hunting. Then the Pritchards make a bet about the Ghost Coon. All this time, Grandpa has been telling other folks that Billy and his dogs are the best, so Grandpa, Billy, and Pa enter a Coon hunting contest. But the second hunting night is stormy.

This book was not my favorite. Too much happens; after one event, there’s another and another. But, the moral is good and Old Dan and Little Ann are sweet, loyal dogs.

Jan 24, 2021

An amazing (and tragic) classic!
A story about Billy, a young boy living in the Ozark Mountains, yearning for adventure with dogs to call his own. When he gets two red hounds, Old Dan and Little Ann, his life changes drastically! Full of adventure, hunting trips, and wonder. A sad, heartfelt story about the companionship and love between humans and man's best friend. I would recommend for 12+. Great story!

Nov 25, 2020

(Comment may include spoilers of the book). This book takes place in the Ozark mountains and is about a boy named Billy and his two dogs; Old Dan and Little Ann. I would recommend this book for people who enjoy reading about Coon Hounds. Be prepared that in chapter thirteen, there is accidental death. All in all, this was a pretty good classic.

Oct 20, 2020

More than fifty years in print, this story of a young boy in the Ozarks and his two raccoon hunting dogs is a classic, selected as one of the Great American Reads. A bond is formed that ends in the death of the dogs when they are saving the boy's life. From despair comes hope and a new future. Uplifting book.

Aug 29, 2020

This is a sweet story. If you enjoy coon hunting and coon dogs, you will enjoy this. The hunting and coon behavior was a bit much for me, but it was still heartwarming in the end.

May 12, 2020

Very good book overall. My 6th grade teacher has read this book 11 times, and each time it just comes back, she cries every time, and it is such a good book, impossible to put down.

Jan 31, 2020
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ArapahoeTina Oct 24, 2019

This made me cry so much as a kid, but as an adult, it didn't hold up. I had a hard time with the hunting and killing for sport and the general disregard of the natural world as something to be endlessly taken from and plundered. My adult conservationist self gives this one a thumbs down.

Jul 13, 2019

This book was a story that I read for hours without stopping! The nice touch between the sad parts of the story and the messages and lessons behind it really makes me proud to have read this well-detailed book by the author Wilson Rawls. Great book overall, though, about a boy with his friendly two hounds, very well written.

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ArapahoeTina Nov 14, 2019

ArapahoeTina thinks this title is suitable for 6 years and over

May 28, 2019

blue_dog_17792 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Jan 30, 2019

wenbo thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 17

Jun 28, 2018

Always_a_MarySue thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Apr 04, 2017

chrisbrock thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Anneliese Elizabeth Coppock thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99

Aug 06, 2013

andryjay thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

May 31, 2013

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Aug 11, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: There are a couple. Someone accidentally gets killed in chapter 13.

Feb 12, 2013

Violence: .

Dec 15, 2010

Violence: This title contains Violence.


Add a Summary
Feb 05, 2009

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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Jun 16, 2020

You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don't. I may be wrong, but I call it love - the deepest kind of love.

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