Title: Hank the Cowdog Series
Author: John R. Erickson
Major Themes: Dogs, Ranches, Farm Life
Synopsis: When a cowdog thinks he is the smartest creature on earth, and indispensable in keeping the ranch running, some funny things occasionally happen.
We only recently discovered the Hank the Cowdog books. Esther found a few free on Kindle, but I didn’t even open them for a long time. Then, one day, I found eight of the print books for sale, used, and decided to try them out and see if my boys would enjoy them. The books arrived, I opened one, and I started laughing! I read a few paragraphs out loud, and everyone else started laughing. The language used in these books is beautiful! I love this author’s mastery of the English language. Since then, I have read three books aloud to everyone, and my younger boys have read several of the print books. Because of some words used in them that I object to, I censor the books before allowing the boys to have them, and they have been begging me to get more ready. My 9-year-old devours the Hank books as soon as I let him loose on them.
We love following Hank’s trains of thought. He has a very high opinion of himself, and looks down on everyone else—especially his sidekick, Drover, and the barn cat, Pete. One really funny part, though, is how Pete frequently fools Hank into getting into trouble! I also like that there is somewhat of a character lesson in each book.
I think my favorite so far of the books we’ve read is The Curse of the Incredible Priceless Corncob. In this story, Pete tricks Hank into thinking that a corncob is worth more than he can imagine, and his life, as well as Drover’s, is nearly wrecked before he figures out the hoax. This reminded me of humans and the way we let ourselves get caught up in worthless things, missing out on the things that have real value.
The Fling and The Garbage Monster From Outer Space both had themes of not listening to the wrong kind of friends, who talk you into doing silly things to benefit them, while you get into trouble. In The Case of the Falling Sky, Pete gets Hank into big trouble again by making him think that the rooster was telling the truth about the sky falling—and Hank was the only one who could save the ranch! In The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting, we learn that Hank has a hard time admitting that he can be wrong about something—and is a slow learner, to boot. The Phantom in the Mirror proves that point again! And then, there is The Case of the Haystack Kitties. The end seemed a bit lame to me, but the story of the truck going in the creek is priceless! I ended up reading some of that aloud twice, because one of my older sons wanted to hear it and I happened to have my Kindle handy when he was driving me somewhere.
The Hank the Cowdog books are great for all ages. My children like them, and so do I. The children like the story, and I love the use of language. The plays on words are great fun! We enjoy seeing Hank getting tripped up by his arrogance, and the conversations he has in his head are delightful.
WARNING: The words “heck,” “gosh,” “by George,” “darn,” and “holy smokes” are frequently used in these books.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12, 10 – 12