A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about the way hunting dogs are trained, and get a glimpse at rural life in the Ozark Mountains in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.
If you work hard for something, you will value it more. Also, the bond between dog and master is deep and profound.
Positive Role Models
Billy is honest, noble, and as faithful as his dogs, and he perseveres against daunting obstacles. Billy also has great examples to look up to in his hardworking and caring father, and his kind and devoted grandpa.
Violence & Scariness
Billy's mother uses a switch to punish him. Billy is beaten by other children. There are many instances of trapping, hunting, wounding, and killing animals -- some more graphic than others. Billy's younger sisters are upset when they see their dad club a raccoon to death. A boy is killed accidentally when he falls on an ax. Animals fight, and there are graphic descriptions of their injuries.
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"Damn" appears once, and "hell" is used a few times. The word "bitch" is used as the correct name for a female dog.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult smokes a pipe; alcohol is taken on a trip, though drinking is not depicted.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wilson Rawls' classic coming-of-age novel Where the Red Fern Grows is the story of Billy, a boy in the Ozarks during the Great Depression. Billy gets a pair of coonhounds as puppies and raises them to be exceptional hunting dogs. Billy exhibits excellent values of loyalty, patience, and devotion to his pets. However, the book includes detailed descriptions of hunting, killing, and skinning animals, as well as a gory description of a boy falling on an ax. Some scenes are quite bloody, and others are emotionally painful. This book may be difficult to take for sensitive animal-loving readers. Where the Red Fern Grows was made into a film in 1974, and again in 2003.
Is It Any Good?
This is.an exciting novel, full of fast-paced, exciting hunting scenes, but it also has great emotional depth. Billy's family life is warm and supportive, and his connection to his pets is quite profound. Young readers will care about Billy and his hounds, and will eagerly follow them through every plot twist and adventure.
Where the Red fern Grows is also a romantic period piece that portrays a rural America where a boy could ramble through the countryside with his dogs all night long, in complete freedom. Based on the author's own boyhood, this boy-and-his-dog story is exciting, uplifting, and heartbreaking.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.