My boys and I received three items from the Hank the Cowdog series published by Maverick Books. I have heard plenty about the books and have seen them in our library. My sons, who usually focus on science related books or ones along the lines of Lord of the Rings, had never read any of this series; so I was eager to see what all the talk was about.
I’ll start this review with the book we received entitled The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse. This book is based on a very clever and amusing premise with the story being told in the words of a dog who has appointed himself, Head of Ranch Security. He lives on a ranch with a faithful companion and sidekick Drover, his man/owner, his wife, their young son, and a cat. This story is broken into chapters, almost vignettes, with very descriptive narratives of events that occur in Hank’s day as he fulfills his duties in his very important and indispensable position of Head of Ranch Security.
My boys and I thoroughly loved the idea of Hank telling the story from his point of view and we could begin to imagine our dog thinking and doing the very same thing during her day at our house. I was impressed by the level of vocabulary used in the book, unlike other chapter books I have read for this age range (8-10 reading alone, younger if reading aloud as a family). There is no simplifying the descriptions and storytelling here just to make it an easy reader. We also enjoyed the play on words that was used when Hank would mistakenly quote an often used saying when handing down sage advice to his trusty sidekick. For example, “wearing the foot on the other shoe” or “… a few fancy words, sprinkled here and there into your sentences, would help break the monogamy of your conversation.”
We especially enjoyed the ending when after all the trials and tribulations that Hank faced culminated in him saving the day. He rescued two little girls from Tuerto the Killer Stud Horse, hence the reason for the book’s title. We found ourselves routing for Hank after experiencing with him all of the disasters of his day and admiring his sincerity in trying to do his self-appointed duty to the best of his ability.
This book is different than one that we would ordinarily read or read again for our family, personally. The type of humor was more slapstick and the dog duo reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy team where there was name calling and some derogatory remarks made. We enjoy more of a dry sense of humor and more wit and satire of Mark Twain or Howard Pyle’s Adventures of Robin Hood as opposed to physical comedy. Thus, when Hank found himself being strangled by the rancher’s wife when she was having a very bad day and Hank got in the way, this was not what we would typically find funny. We turned that portion of the story into more of a lesson in handling your frustrations and stress in a more positive manner. But, other families who enjoy physical comedy, the kind found in the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy, may also enjoy this story.
However, try out one of these books on your own and see if this is a good fit for your family or a reluctant reader who would enjoy a good yarn told from the perspective of a dog, especially one who is Head of Ranch Security. The price for the paperback version of this book is $4.24. You can find it here along with other Hank the Cowdog titles.
Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog (Stories and Excerpts from 10 Books plus 9 Original Songs)
The second item for review was a CD with Hank the Cowdog story excerpts and original songs written and sung by John R. Erickson, the author of Hank the Cowdog series. The stories and songs are told and sung in voices of animal characters in excerpts from various Hank the Cowdog books. We enjoyed listening to Mr. Erickson portray the animals’ different personalities through his many different voices and the kinds of songs they sang.
My boys especially enjoyed hearing Hank’s voice after he tries not to believe he’s been stung twice by two “bimble bees” on the nose. Think about what it sounds like to have a very stuffed nose and you’ve got the idea. A song we enjoyed listening to was sung by two coyotes Rip and Snort entitled, “We Don’t Give A Hoot.” This song, of course being sung by what you would consider scavengers, basically conveys the message that these two do not give a hoot what others think of them or what they do when they sing, “We don’t give a hoot, we don’t ever wear a suit. We’re nothing but animals, outrageous cannibals…”
Again, most of the stories and songs were not quite our cup of tea. However, maybe your younger children will enjoy them; especially, if you don’t mind the kind of song that refers to a posterior body part. (It rhymes with shiny.) Someone who reads alot of Hank the Cowdog books would thoroughly enjoy listening to the characters come alive in some of their favorite stories. This CD can be purchased for only $3.00 from the Hank the Cowdog official website.
My son and I enjoyed this game most of all. Based on the book The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado, this game is played very similarly to Sorry. Each player gets three markers, Hank, Drover, and a buzzard, all characters from the story. By spinning the spinner, you move your pieces around the board in order to get home. While moving around the board, you can send other players back to their starting positions or you can be sent back to yours. You can also be penalized when landing on a spot with a picture of a tornado. This game comes with a cassette tape with excerpts from the book. It served as a good lesson in graciously accepting bumps in the road that unexpectedly come your way and then moving on. We enjoyed listening to the story on tape while we played. I think it would make a great gift or surprise for a big Hank the Cowdog fan. The Tornado game is available for $12.99 along with other Hank the Dog items.
Read other opinions of this set of Hank the Cowdog products at the TOS Homeschool Crew.