Where The Red Fern Grows
Where the Red Fern grows, by Wilson Rawls is the story of a boy, Billy, who lives on a farm in the Ozarks (a beautiful, unspoiled part of rural America) who wants nothing more badly than a pair of good coonhounds to hunt racoons with, though his father cannot afford them. In order to be able to afford them himself, Billy works diligently at selling fruit and fish bait. Once he saves enough money for the dogs, he gives the money to his grandfather who helps him purchase the dogs.
The day his dogs arrive Billy sneaks out in the wee hours to go to the city and pick them up. On his way home, he and his two puppies sleep in a cave. They hear a mountain lion outside and his new pups courageously howl at the Mountain Lion to drive him off. Billy proudly names his hounds Old Dan and Little Ann. Old Dan is very courageous, while Little Ann is very intelligent.
Once home, he begins training them for the hunt. By the time raccoon season begins in the autumn, his hounds are ready. In their first attempt the dogs trap a raccoon in the largest Sycamore tree you could ever imagine. Billy realizes immediately that it will take days to cut down that big old tree. But he is determined to cut it, lest it discourage his hounds to do it again for him as he had promised them that if they put a coon in a tree he’d take care of the rest. When he finally drops the great sycamore and his dogs catch the raccoon, he is very proud.
Billy goes coon hunting most every day. His father even relieves him from some of his chores, and Billy in return gives him the money he gets from the coonskins. Billy and his dogs become so adept at coon hunting that one day, Billy and his grandfather enter the dogs into a hunting contest. The contest is populated with some very serious coon hunters with expensive equipment and gorgeous dogs. But somehow, little Ann manages to win the beauty contest on the first day. Then, during the contest, while Billy, a judge, his father and grandfather are hunting, a winter storm breaks. In the bad weather conditions they lose track of the dogs, and Billy’s grandfather falls and sprains an ankle. But they soon recover the dogs and then still manage to win the contest including a $300 dollar prize (a respectable sum at that time).
One fateful night, however, the dogs chase a mountain lion onto a tree. Billy is horrified and tries to help out his dogs with an ax in hope of saving his dogs from the Mountain Lion’s vicious attack, but instead the dogs end up having to rescue him. The outcome that follows is worth the reading of the entire 272 pages of Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls.