I re-read Where the Red Fern Grows because it is set near Tahlequah, Oklahoma and I'm working on a feature article about Tahlequah for Ozarks Magazine. I say "re-read" because a long, long time ago, we read - or were supposed to read - Where the Red Fern Grows in school. As I went through the story, I had vague recollections of Ole Dan and Little Ann, but for the most part, I felt like I was reading it for the first time. Wilson Rawls was an incredible storyteller and a true Oklahoma treasure. He was able to weave a picture of life in the Ozarks during the first half of the 20th century that is whole and complete. And although I would never consider coon hunting, I was inspired by Billy's ability to set a goal and chip away at it over time. If only we could all be that disciplined. I did notice that this novel is much more graphic in descriptions of violence and bloodshed than contemporary middle grade novels.
I also attempted to read The Incredible Journey. For some reason, I just wasn't able to get caught up with this story the way I was with Red Fern. Perhaps I've been tainted by the Disney adaptations of this book that allow the animals snappy dialogue. But I really don't think that was it. Rawls animals didn't talk either, but still I was engaged and cared about what would happen to the hounds next.