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Where the Red Fern Grows

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  279,274 Ratings  ·  8,701 Reviews
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann - a boy and his two dogs.

A loving threesome, they roamed the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee county. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains, and Billy had the will to make them into the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming, but sadness
Paperback, US / CAN, 212 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Yearling (first published 1961)
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Clyde Hedges It's sad because it has to be. It's one of the most emotional books I've ever read, and it's uplifting and full of love.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jul 10, 2007 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who has a heart
I read this book in 4th grade. One day I was waiting for class when an obnoxious boy decided it would be a good idea to take it. I informed him that it was my favorite book in the whole wide world and if he didn't give it back that he'd be sorry. He then threatened to tear the book in half. With that I walked over to him, hit him over the head with my cast (I had broken my wrist a few weeks prior), took my book and calmly walked away.

I think that a book that inspires someone to violence in the 4
Apr 09, 2007 karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is one of my favorite books in all the land. i read it at least a million times when i was little, and it holds such a special place in my heart, i can't even begin to review it. having said all that, there are those who have a problem with the ending, because let's just say it's fairly devastating. so, as a band-aid to the heart of monica!, i have rewritten the ending to make it a little more jolly. with all apologies to wilson rawls, whose ending i thought was spectacular, allow me to pre ...more
Aug 25, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in sixth grade and cried my twelve-year-old heart out. Another book I share with my sixth grade students. What I find is that this book in particular allows the boys in my class to get emotional about a story and be able to talk about it together and normalize it. It is almost a contest for them of who got most upset. One student said he finished it on a plane ride home and that the flight attendant kept coming up to him asking him if he was alright. I've had many students tell ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was in grade school and it always stuck out as an effortless read. I still remember the storyline and the characters and the ending was magical.
May 18, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I knelt down and gathered them into my arms. I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried. The stationmaster, sensing something more than two dogs and a boy, waited in silence."

Woodrow Wilson Rawls' timeless coming-of-age Classic is a beautifully heartbreaking story and sentimental favorite. Where the Red Fern Grows explores the love between a boy and his dogs and the bond between two dogs. The Disney movie was a staple of my childhood, but I'm still unsure of whether or not I'd eve
Mike (the Paladin)
Let me say first that some love this book and to be fair I never read it except to get an idea of the story.(updated:please read what I actually said there. Any book I don't care for enough to finish will usually get a 1 star or at best a 2.) You will find in my books low ratings for Black Beauty, The Yearling, Old Yeller and any books that have the "pain of life motif" in common. By the way this includes Cold Mountain. Look up my review and you'll see I try to give recognition that it's well wr ...more
Oct 15, 2008 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
We finished it! I read this aloud with my kids and as I read through the final sentences, we were all in tears. I am not talking teary eyes, but body rocking sobs. My six year old did not stop for almost twenty minutes. When he was finished he said it was the greatest story he had ever heard. My eight year old wanted to meet the author and thank him for such a great book. I loved this book and recommend it to everyone. Just read it with a box of tissues nearby.
Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨

“Men,” said Mr. Kyle, “people have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. One never knows what they’ll do. 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.”

“It’s a shame that people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts,” he said. “There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed
Wilson Rawls’ classic, timeless story of a young boy’s coming-of-age is heartbreaking, sentimental, and utterly charming. An ode to love, family and the beauty of nature. Set in the Ozarks, northeastern Oklahoma, Billy wants nothing more than to have a puppy, or to be more specific, two puppies. He wants to train them for hunting, although his mother has forbidden him to use or own a gun until he is 21 or older. For two years he waits, collecting enough money doing whatever jobs he can, he final ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Marci rated it it was amazing
There are a handful of books we read as children that so completely capture our hearts we cannot and would not ever forget them. Where the Red Fern Grows is such a book. An elementary teacher read this book to my class when I was in about third grade, beginning for me a love that has seen me through many personal readings, with even more readings to my own students through the course of my career as an elementary teacher.

What most people do not know is that this classic tale of a boy and his hun
Edward Lorn
Sep 20, 2014 Edward Lorn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dog Lovers/Cat Haters
If there's one thing I learned from this book it's this: Fuck cats. Big or small, cats are the source of all evil. Hell, even Billy's family left their cat behind when they moved. Yeah, man, cats suck.

Now that I've made plenty of enemies, I will try and express my true feelings about this book.

I laughed. I cried. I did a number of cliched things while reading Where the Red Fern Grows. Mostly, I had fun. I dug running around with Billy and Little Ann and Old Dan, and I hate that I was one of the
Fantastic emotional roller coaster ride that was as good now as when I read it more than 40 years ago. I haven't read it since then because I remembered it pretty well & knew it came with a TJ (Tear Jerker) rating. There are tears of joy & sorrow, triumphs & defeats - a lot of life in such a few pages. Billy's grit & determination are something for every child to aspire to.

In this read, I found the background of the times most interesting. I guess it took place in the 1920's sinc
Jun 17, 2007 RachelAnne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Nov 28, 2007 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidlit
I was chatting over email with Amy Schimler about her dog Beans, and it got me thinking about my favorite dog book of all time. We had to read Where the Red Fern Grows in 5th grade, and I have to admit I was completely dismayed that we had to read a "boy book." I struggled the whole time to distance myself from Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann, probably flipping my permed hair and muttering "this is *so* stupid" and "who cares about a couple of dumb dogs?" under my breath about 20 times. But I rem ...more
Well. This book is terrible! I was told it had positive message and was filled with life lessons. Life lessons? Life Lessons!!! Why that boy and his dogs chased us all over the place and you don't want to know what happened when he caught us. No siree.



My cousin Rocky in the minutes before he was caught by Billy. (hands clearly up in surrender)

Mar 15, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think there are going to be a lot of middle-grade readers that end up being a hot mess and their heart ripped out after reading this one. Oh wait, maybe I just described myself. A wonderful, coming of age story that I truly enjoyed. Who would have thought running dogs and catching raccoons could be so intense and exciting? So much to this story and one that I highly recommend. Grab the Kleenex and brace yourself. Loved it!
Jul 01, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-faves, young-adult
You know how everyone you know says they cried after they watched "Old Yeller"? Yeah, I didn't cry nearly as hard watching that movie as I did when reading this book...worse yet, we read it for an English class in jr. high--yeah, that's a stigma an already geeky girl needs on her middle school resume!

Regardless of that, this is still one of my all-time favorite books. It does a great job of portraying loyalty, stamina, work-ethics, and love at a level that children and adults can understand and
Review to come. Let me just go collect my feels, first.
Mar 27, 2017 Skip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. A classic story of a poor young boy in the Ozarks, saving his money for two years to buy two redbone coon hounds: a male (Old Dan) and a runt female (Little Ann.) Together always, they become the best racoon hunters in the area, eventually competing for a top award. Lots of adventures for the trio, whose companionship is indefatigable. Not sure how I missed this one growing up...
Spider the Doof Warrior
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I live in the town where this book was written, and in the movie they filmed a scene in the old hardware store that the boy's grandfather owned. Now it is a restaurant named Jincy's Kitchen. Great food. It is decorated as the movie crew left it. Those things are kind of neat, and it is even neat that we have a Red Fern Festival.

What isn't so neat is that during this festival they have coon hounds chasing a coon skin to a tree, and then the dogs get to that tree and bark up a mighty storm, for i
Christian Guzman
Jun 15, 2016 Christian Guzman rated it liked it
This was a nice quick read. It felt dragged out, but the plot and overall message was very deep. The book wasn’t that long to begin with and somehow it did happen to feel lengthy. I like how it is realistic and the author didn’t hold back on depicting real life events. I never had any pets as a child so it was nice reading about this unbreakable bond Billy had with his dogs. I admired the way he was portrayed. He seemed to never give up and strived to achieve his goals. Also, at that age not man ...more
A classic so called tear-jerker and for good reason, when we read Where the Red Fern Grows in grade six English (we also watched the movie), I most definitely was crying at the end, not just for the dogs, but also for Billy, having lost both of his loyal and treasured pets.

However, as much as I was emotionally moved and yes, affected by Where the Red Fern Grows, I have also always had some major and problematic issues with this novel, namely with the amount of hunting that is described (and in
Oct 29, 2007 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10+
This book can easily be the best book i have ever read. The book is about a young boy you wants to buy a pair of hunting dogs, but does not have enough money. After a while he saves enough and buys them, and names the dogs Big Dan and Little Ann. The book is great for many people becasue you can relate youself to the characters no matter who you are. The story flows very easily and reads very well. This book is one of those kinds of books that once you start, you just cant put it down, and you k ...more
Mar 10, 2010 Engineous rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The synopsis: a boy gets two purebred hunting dogs, goes around hunting animals. Usually succeeds in killing them, although occasionally it stops at mutilation. Ends up getting his dogs killed because he's too selfish to rethink his actions and ethics. Other stuff happens too, but mostly torturing animals. Often given to kids. Unless you like sociopaths, don't.

God, what an awful book. I read this when I was nine for a school assignment - I remember loving it. I revisited it several years later,
Aug 29, 2007 Swaps55 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: young-adult
This book belongs on that special list of YA books that stay with you for the rest of your life. You remember them, remember how they changed your perspective, how they made you feel, and how they helped you grow up. This book in particular belongs at the top of that list for me, right alongside Bridge to Terebithia, and I consider it a mandatory title for anyone who is in the process of growing up.

Clear as a bell I remember the night I finished it, right before (or quite after, as was more lik
Brian Yahn
Aug 06, 2013 Brian Yahn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I wasn't already, this book was bad enough to make me non-religious.

Not only is Where the Red Fern Grows incredibly dry--it reads like the Bible except ten times more boring--but it seemingly lacks a plot and has minimal character growth. Worse than all that, though, everything in the story lacks consequence. At one point, a childhood-rival accidentally axes himself to death in the midst of a petty fight with the protagonist, Billy, and his two dogs. In less than a few pages, Billy and his fa
Rebecca McNutt
This book scared the heck out of me when I was in the third grade and they made my class read it. Mainly the scene where (view spoiler). I mean, who decided that that was a good thing to put in a middle-grade novel!?

Nonetheless, Where the Red Fern Grows vibrantly and honestly portrays the nostalgia and rural reserve of a young boy's life and adventures with his beloved dogs, Old Dan and Little Anne (or vice-versa, I honestly can
This was a SOLID 3 stars for me!

I found myself enjoying the meaning behind this story more than its actual content if that makes sense. I definitely didn't hate it but there were some parts that dragged mainly because I couldn't really relate to this boy's life. I'm glad though that I chose to listen to the audiobook version because the narrator did a great job. The ending was very beautifully sad and the message was universal whether you are a boy or a girl. Overall, I'm glad I read this.
Steve Lowe
May 09, 2011 Steve Lowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in grade school and can still remember coming to the woefully sad climax, sitting in a smoky, crowded bowling alley for my mom's league night, blubbering over poor Old Dan and Little Ann.

I would probably still cry if I read this again today. I'm a giant baby.
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Wilson Rawls was born on September 24, 1913, in the Ozark country of Scraper, Oklahoma. His mother home-schooled her children, and after Rawls read Jack London's canine-centered tale Call of the Wild, he decided to become a writer.

But the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929, and Rawls left home to find work. His family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1935, and he came home each fal
More about Wilson Rawls...

Share This Book

“After the last shovel of dirt was patted in place, I sat down and let my mind drift back through the years. I thought of the old K. C. Baking Powder can, and the first time I saw my pups in the box at the depot. I thought of the fifty dollars, the nickels and dimes, and the fishermen and blackberry patches.

I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: "You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.”
“I buried Little Ann by the side of Old Dan. I knew that was where she wanted to be. I also buried a part of my life along with my dog.” 88 likes
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