What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is, in part, about the joys of hunting raccoons. If you don't want your kids reading about hunting, killing, and skinning animals, this isn't for you. It's also one of the great classics of children's literature, and any child who doesn't get to read this beloved and powerfully emotional book has missed out on an important piece of childhood for the last 40+ years.
What's the story?
Billy is growing up dirt-poor in the Ozarks during the Depression. More than anything, he wants a pair of redbone coon hounds. As it is financially out of the question for his parents to buy them, he works and saves for two years to buy them himself, then hikes barefoot 60 miles round-trip over the mountains and through the woods to the nearest town to pick them up. He then spends months training the pups to be the best hounds in the hills. His dreams all come true as he spends every night out hunting in the hills with his dogs, and their fame spreads far and wide. Billy and his dogs are so good that his grandfather enters them in a championship coon hunt against grown men.
Is it any good?
Arguably the greatest boy-and-dog story of all time, this is, for many kids, the book that introduces them to the power of literature. No one, adult or child, gets through this book without weeping, usually more than once, yet it never feels manipulative or trite -- it's a good, honest cry. For over four decades, it has remained near the top of the list of kids' favorite books. Who says kids don't love quality?
It reveals a world that has all but vanished today, a rural America where a boy could ramble through the woods and mountains with his dogs all night long, in complete freedom. It also shows what our image of boyhood once was: strong, brave, emotional, honest, gritty, and loyal, Billy is an archetype that, like the world he inhabits, is virtually extinct, except in literature. This exciting, heartbreaking, uplifting book, based on the author's own boyhood, should be a part of everyone's childhood.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about respect. How do Billy and his father respect raccoons?
How does Papa's treatment of Billy change?