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Book Review of Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows
reviewed on

Well, a lot of other people apparently loved it as a child, so I am in the minority. I just read it for the first time, as an adult and the ending spoiled it for me.


I started reading this book to see if it would be a good one to read with a dog-loving foreign student in junior high, whom I am tutoring. At first it seemed like the perfect choice...but then I had a look at the last few chapters and changed my mind. Good "literature," it probably is, but there is a description of the killing of one of the boy's dogs that is downright gruesome. It could have been handled in a much less graphic way.

In my opinion, this book does not belong in the children's section of the library (its location in our local library). I dislike the modern penchant for having kids' stories end sadly, anyway, but I would not demand that every story end "happily ever after." Nevertheless, the graphic brutality in "Red Fern" is over the top.

Sure, kids nowadays are exposed to hundreds of gruesome killings, blowings-up, and so on, when they watch TV, and they may kill and blow people up themselves in video games, but there is a difference between animated games and a story that draws you in so that you identify with and suffer with the characters.

Anyone considering having his/her child read this book should check out the part about the dogs' deaths first and make a decision based on how their child might react to the story. I would keep it from mine as long as I could.

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