Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls
Billy is a 10-year-old boy who lives with his family on a farm in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma. All that Billy wants is to have two coonhounds, but his family cannot afford to buy them. Instead, his father gives him mouse traps to play with. One day, finds a sportsman's catalog at a camp and sees an ad for two coonhounds for $25 each. When Billy has saved up $50, his grandfather secretly orders him the dogs. Billy named the dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. Old Dan is very brave, and Little Ann is very smart. Coon season begins, and on the first night that Billy went out with the dogs they treed a coon in a very large tree. Billy gets very in to hunting and his father begins to lessen his chores in exchange for the money from his coon skins. There is a legend about a "ghost coon" and Billy and his grandfather make a bet with Ruben and Rainie Pritchard they they can catch it. The coon gives them a hard time, and after a while the Prichard boys want to give up, but Billy will not. Finally, they caught the ghost coon but Billy does not want to kill her. As Ruben starts to beat up Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann start to attack the Pritchard's dog. Ruben ran over to beat the dogs with an axe, but fell and killed himself. Billy is devastated, so he goes to visit Ruben's grave with flowers. Billy is entered in a coon hunting contest by his grandfather. Billy is intimidated by all of the beautiful, expensive coonhounds. On the first day, Little Ann won the beauty competition. After that, Billy and his dogs made it to the championship round. As they are out hunting in the championship, a blizzard starts. Billys grandfather sprained his ankle and they could not find Little Ann and Old Dan. When they find the dogs, they are covered in snow but have gotten enough coons to win the contest. Billy got $300 for winning the competition, and his parents are thrilled. One night, Billy is out hunting and his dogs tree a mountain lion, which starts to attack Old Dan. Billy trys to fight the mountain lion with his axe, but the dogs ended up defeating it. Old Dan was very hurt in the fight, and died the next day. Billy was very upset, and Little Ann was so sad that she no lost her will to live and died a few days after. Billy's father tries to convince him that it was for the better because they can now move to down with all of the money that Billy earned. Billy does not feel better until he goes to the dogs' grave on the day his family was moving, and sees a red fern. He remembers an old legend that only an angel can plant a red fern, and feels better.
This book is a great way to teach students about determination, and also to teach them to follow their passion. I feel that it is a solid piece of literature perfect for 4th or 5th grade students to read in literacy to practice the literary components such as plot, characterization, symbolism, etc. as well as comprehension, vocabulary, and much more.
I created a wordle out of my book summary, which generated a word cloud with many important words from the story.