Where the Red Fern Grows

by Wilson Rawls

Paperback, 1984



Call number

PB Raw

Call number

PB Raw

Local notes

PB Raw




Laurel Leaf (1997), Edition: 1st, 249 pages


A young boy living in the Ozarks achieves his heart's desire when he becomes the owner of two redbone hounds and teaches them to be champion hunters.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

249 p.; 4.19 inches

Media reviews

Once you read this book, this book will always remain close to your heart, I guarantee that. The wonderful starting, brilliant story and an emotional ending makes this book one of the best books a reader shall ever read in his life. The story of Billy and his dogs is a true wonder.

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
Wilson Rawls is one of those classic children's authors that I have deliberately avoided because his books have a reputation for breaking their readers' hearts. But I'm an adult now and well able to handle literary tragedies, right? Well, yes, I suppose. But somehow I still ended up with a painful
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lump in the throat. Where The Red Fern Grows is a book that made me care, looking ahead worriedly for the coming sorrow. It came, of course. But only as part of a bigger story, resonant, powerful, and very much worth the risk of reading.

Billy Colman lives with his family in the Ozark Mountains and his sole desire is to get two hunting hounds. His parents are poor and cannot purchase even one hound for him, let alone two. And so he works relentlessly for two years, saving pennies from selling blackberries, trapping furs, peddling vegetables, and doing anything else a mountain boy can to earn cash. Billy tells the story in the first person, and this narrative device throws us right into his world and keeps us there, cheering him on and celebrating every victory. When Billy finally gets his two beautiful hounds, we are privy to the incredibly moving relationship that forms the heart of the novel.

Billy's hounds, Old Dan and Little Ann, are vivid personalities and characters in their own right. They are inseparable from one another and from Billy, and this is the first hint we get of what is coming. (This isn't too spoilery because Rawls hints at tragedy and loss in the first chapter, before he takes up the tale.) Two halves of one whole are always so described when they are split down the middle from one another. Old Dan and Little Ann were doomed from the beginning, because everything living is. When you love someone or something so deeply, you will always get hurt. I think the question that this story asks is whether or not that pain outweighs the love that occasions it.

This is certainly not a politically correct book by modern standards, and I can see it falling off a lot of lists in the years to come. There are several blatant references to God helping Billy and answering prayers (!), and very little mercy for the coons he hunts with his dogs. And the family relationships are so healthy! I noticed something disturbing: I kept waiting for the adults to betray Billy or hurt him in some way. It's a sad commentary on what I'm used to in fiction.

I listened to this on audiobook read by Anthony Heald, and I can't recommend his narration enough. He has just the right accent for the part, convincing and never overbearing or insulting, and he does a wonderful job with the characters' voices. His is an emotional, engaging read that plays to all the strengths of the novel and unabashedly enters into Billy's struggles. I loved it.

One interesting note about this book is that Rawls wrote it once, hated his work and burned it, and later rewrote it at the urging of his wife. I don't know how much the story changed between its two incarnations, but I'm glad Sophie Rawls encouraged her husband to rewrite the book. It's a story well worth telling and Rawls does it skillfully. The dedication is sweet: "To my wonderful wife without whose help this book would not have been

Recommended for young and old readers alike.
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LibraryThing member jdquinlan
The sentimental favorite on my Shelf of Honor. I haven't read it since I was in middle school and I'm not going to read it as an adult. I want to preserve my memories of this as the best book I read in my childhood.
LibraryThing member lecowan
This historical fiction book is about a young boy growing up in the Ozark Mountains of Northwestern Oklahoma. The young boy desires two raccoon hunting dogs and works hard for two years in order to buy them. The dogs that he buys turn out to be a blessing for his whole family, even though some of
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the lessons were very tough to learn. Through many trials and triumphs, the young boy learns the true meaning of work, love and friendship.

I have read the book many times and each time I read it, I cry at the end. When my second grade daughter asked to read it, and I allowed her, she had the same reaction to it as I did. It allowed me and her to discuss this book and to try to answer many of the same questions the young boy in the book asks his parents.

This book could be used in a classroom unit over early Oklahoman days when people earned a living primarily through farming and hunting. It would also provide a good insight on the types of schooling (home schooling and public schooling) that were around during those time periods. I would recommend this book to any child to read, because the lessons it teaches about hard work, honesty, friendship, family and love are always useful to us to use as we are growing up and even when we are grown.
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LibraryThing member laal9
this is a GREAT book, but it gets extremily sad at the end but this is about a little boys life story I also Highly Recamend this book too !
LibraryThing member Lulu0917
Such a sad yet heartwarming book. I loved it so much!
LibraryThing member Joybee
This is my favorite book. I first read it when I was about 12 yrs old. It is a wonderful story about a country boy's first true love, his two hunting hounds Old Dan and Little Ann and the adventures they go through. I would recommend this book to everyone, but, if you are a softy like me, be
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prepared to cry. While this book is sad it is also inspiring and you will finish with a happy and content feeling. I read this book at least once a year and I cry every time. In my opinion this is a testament to how well the story absorbs me and I become a part of it. I can not imagine my life with out this book as part of it.
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LibraryThing member shumphreys
This is the sentimental tale of Billy, a 10-year-old boy growing up in the Great Depression. He has a great desire to own hunting dogs, so he saves up money and buys two hunting dogs. Together, they enjoy the primal instinct to hunt and chase after such formidable figures as the "ghost coon." The
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book wraps up quite neatly as a great loss teaches Billy an equally great lesson.
Grades 3-8. Wide appeal. Independent read or Class audiobook listening. Positives - exciting and adventurous, yet still relatable to everyday children
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LibraryThing member andy_21
This exellent book was made by wilson rawls. This book is about a little boy named billy that was really poor and he had like four sisters, no brothers. His grandpa worked in a shack were he sold everything. His dad worked as a person who transports food in the city. He uses the help of his very
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old mule. Billy lived in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Bily was too poor to go to school so he stayed at home helping his family. One day Billy saw an annual racoon hunting contest on the tree and he wanted to be in it but he needed a dog. He told his dad if he could money to get a hound but his dad needed money to buy a new mule. So he dicided to earn the money himself. He noticed that there was some fisher men and they needed some worms, he started to collect worms and collect worms for two years. He finally got the money to get the hound and he didnt have a ride so he told his mom if he could go put his dad needed the money to get a new mule. His mom said yes and she packed him some food and cloths. He started to walk the twentyfive miles he needed to walk and it took him two days. He got to the place and billy asked the man if he had the blood hound and he thinked for a minute and said yes I have two of them a boy and a girl. He got them both for for fifty dollars and carried them in a sack. He had to rest in a cave and he encountered a big bob cat.The dogs protected billy. then after he woke up he was walking and he say a tree and it had a heart around it and it said dan loves ann. He named the dogs little ann and old dan.Then when he got home he entered the contest he won the contest and old dan died and little ann was by herself. Little ann died of lonelyness. Then were the two dogs were buried a red fern grew. This story is very exiting and sad.
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LibraryThing member flamingrosedrakon
This is truly one book that may end up influencing and touching you more so the first time reading it than in following readings. For me it touches me each and every time while I was only able to stave off the main tears since I was distracting myself at the same time with mundane events.

I was
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introduced to this book when I was in the second grade by my teacher. He told us upfront that he wouldn't be reading the ending of the book since it put him in tears and that he would be getting the only other male teacher in our school. When that day arrived my teacher never stayed in the classroom but gave it up. We listened to the end and watched another man - a big, scary man if you didn't know him - reading with tears falling down his face. These are memories that seem to go hand-in-hand with the reading of this story.

Anyway Wilson Rawls is an amazing author who puts so much emotion into his story, so much life and is able to tie his story to your soul. From the beginning where the mood is dark and nostalgic then down memory lane where a boy's deepest desires come true before leading to the dreams coming true for his parents as well through the beautiful gift of two amazing little hound pups who gave so much just like most other dogs.

For as many people who read this book and have done reviews there really isn't much to add that someone else may or may not have mentioned. In this reading it made me wonder why Rawls character cried so much (I didn't seem to pick it up in other readings), which irritated me but throughout the book it also shows the maturity of the boy as he goes through life in the Ozarks.

An amazing read that if it isn't considered classic should be....
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LibraryThing member MadisonB
I thought that this was an AMAZING book!!!!!!!!! I thought that Wilson Rawls did an amazing job of describing the characters. This book made me cry though. To me that is a sing of a good book.
LibraryThing member agilbert51
one of the best books i ever read....glad i read it. The book was way better the the movie...
LibraryThing member akingzett16
Very touching and heart warming. 5 stars for action and characters passion for each other.
LibraryThing member Jthierer
I bawl like a baby every time I read this book. Its a wonderful story about the bond that can develop between animals and people.
LibraryThing member mj113469
A boy named Billy Coleman who lives in Oklahoma desperately wants two coon dogs of his own, so for tow years he works doing odd and end jobs to earn enough money to purchase the dogs. He finally purchased 2 coon dogs and trained them how to hunt. Billy and the dogs experience many different
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adventures. On one of the hunting adventures Billy and the town bullies were betting on which one could tree the ghost coon first. Billy and the bully were wrestling and the bully landed on Billy hatchet. The end is sad, with both coon dogs dying.

I wanted to read this book because my husband and I own coon dogs (hound dogs). I knew that I would be interested in this book but not as interested as I ended up being. From beginning to end the book was full of suspense with the end being somewhat of emotional. I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The narrative helps the reader feel what it was like. The time period is brought back to life by the words the author used to create the environment.

This book has been recreated into a movie so one classroom extension could be showing the students the movie after they read the book and have the children tell us the difference between the movie and book. Another classroom extension could be where the students could read the book during history. Such as the same time period of the book.
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LibraryThing member softball35
I was crying so hard at the end! But this book was worth reading.
LibraryThing member AndrewK4
This book is about a boy who wants nothing else in the world but a set of coon hounds. When he finally gets them he trains the to be the best dogs from far around. It is a really sad book in the end because the dogs die. But over the grave there is a red fern. And a red fern can only grow were an
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angels plants it.
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LibraryThing member amathewson

I liked this book. I didn't think I would like it at first but i was wrong. It's about a boy named Billy getting two hunting dogs when he was 12. He had to do alot to earn the dogs and he had to walk to town which is an extremely long distance. When he gets them, the dogs are pretty much his
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best friends. He named then Little Ann and Big Dan. He uses the dogs to hunt raccoons. Billy is a Pre Teen that is very smart and courageous. He honors his parents and he does most of the work around the farm. he lives in a working class household. The only thing i can really relate to was having a dog myself. My dog is my best friend when I'm at home. She is very loyal and kind, and sometimes i like it alot better than people because she won't talk back. hahah. I didn't like it when something died. Because it was really sad. I don't want to give it away though.

I'll recommend this book to my dad, because he seems like he likes theses kind of books, and anyone that likes animals.
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LibraryThing member supermanlver
This book was very sad, moving, and touching at the same time. The ending is beyond sad. And the worst part is that it's all true. This makes the reality of it hit hard. But i highly recommend it.
LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
The story of a country boy and his dogs is one that pulls at the heart strings of most readers. I was one such reader, finding myself tearing up a bit in the last pages as I read it aloud to my infant son.

The dedication that the boy has for the process he needs to undertake to get the dogs, train
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the dogs and love the dogs is a lesson that I hope all children can pull away from the story. The writing is a vibrant portrayal of the hunting life, though, and there were moments that I found myself wanting to skip over certain passages. Beware of this for the youngest readers, though any child who can pick these pages up and wish to read them probably has enough sense to understand what hunting entails.
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LibraryThing member nm.fall07.jwinner
Well this is the first book I actually read, the whole thing and by myself. Where the red fern grows is about a boy whom all he ever wanted is a set of two hounds. And after waiting two years he finally had enough money for them, after that it’s pretty much him and his life with his dogs. It’s
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kind of a sad and unfair story but life isn’t fair. I would recommend this to anyone it’s a great book vie read it four times.
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LibraryThing member Sigualicious
This is one of my favorite books. I've read it at least 5 times and I promise I only cried the first two times reading it.
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
I know this is a classic and beloved children's book and what I'm going to say is blasphemous, but I disliked it strongly. Too boyish and the passages describing raccoon hunt after hunt were majorly BORING!
LibraryThing member jshillingford
A heartwarming coming of age story. Billy is a carefree young boy. When his father tells him they can't afford to buy him a hound dog, he determines to buy them himself. He saves every bit he earns over a summer and finally get Big Dan and Little Ann. Much like Old Yeller, this is a tragic story,
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but with a message of hope. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member ccole
good read aloud book. Indepentent level is 4th and above.
LibraryThing member Lvz2Rd
This is a three-tissue read. It is not for the feign of heart. Most everyone will have a tear in the eye, but will be glad for the journey. A boy, two dogs, racoons, hunting, a big tree, a cougar, a grandfather, country living, and a young family all come together with room for laughter, sadness,
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glee, and a good old fashion lesson on morals, values and hard work. One book that is not to be missed by audiences eight and older. One of the finest additions to our world's literature.
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