A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series offers readers a glimpse into the mind of a dog who thinks he's the hard-hitting head of ranch security. In reality, Hank is a dog. On a ranch. With no responsibilities. He gets into dangerous situations, but Hank tends to embellish: He's rarely in real danger. Hank narrates the books, and his running monologue is full of high-intensity scatterbrained thoughts, for example he's constantly surprised by a squirrel, then interrogating it, then quickly moving along. These are fun stories, but they're seriously muddled by "cowpoke" dialogue, often to the point of making the plot hard to follow. Reading aloud might be a better way to read these, where voices and inflection make a difference.
What's the story?
Old-timey fun and cowboy talk abound in the HANK THE COWDOG series, with a ranch full of animals solving mysteries, going on adventures, and trying to outwit one another. Hank, the self-proclaimed head of ranch security, takes it upon himself to interrogate the bumbling dogs, cheeky cats, and random ranch animals he finds suspicious. He has a lot going on in this series -- trying to prove his innocence, rescue a friend, make his way home after being left in town, helping an orphaned raccoon stay out of trouble -- and Hank's brash pseudo-authority is front and center. Of course, Hank himself isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. ...
Is it any good?
This cowboy-flavored series is better read aloud than alone. The stories and word choices in each book are funny and interesting for young readers, but the sections of dialogue -- both internal and external -- are meandering and tough to follow. The Hank the Cowdog series is written just as you'd expect a slightly dim but egotistical dog-aspiring-to-be-a-cowboy would speak, and the animals' adventures are both fun and funny. So, if your reader likes to get in character, these are good books to read aloud.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Hank talks in the Hank the Cowdog series. What other books have animals acting and talking like people?
When Hank talks about being in danger, does it seem like he's exaggerating, or is he being truthful? How can you tell the difference?
Hank the Cowdog bulldozes his way through conversations; how do you deal with people who do that?
- Author: John R. Erickson
- Illustrator: Gerald L. Holmes
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, dogs, and mice, Horses and farm animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Puffin Books
- Publication date: October 15, 2011
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 11
- Number of pages: 127
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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