Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

The Story of Two Dogs and A Boy

Book - 2001
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.

Where the Red Fern Grows is a beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between man and man&;s best friend. This edition also includes a special note to readers from Newbery Medal winner and Printz Honor winner Clare Vanderpool.
   Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he&;s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own&;Old Dan and Little Ann&;he&;s ecstatic. It doesn&;t matter that times are tough; together they&;ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.
   Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan&;s brawn, Little Ann&;s brains, and Billy&;s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters&;now friends&;and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
Praise for Where the Red Fern Grows
A Top 100 Children&;s Novel, School Library Journal
A Must-Read for Kids 9 to 14, NPR
A Great American Read's Selection (PBS)
Winner of Multiple State Awards

Over 14 million copies in print!

&;A rewarding book . . . [with] careful, precise observation, all of it rightly phrased....Very touching.&; &;The New York Times Book Review
&;One of the great classics of children&;s literature . . . Any child who doesn&;t get to read this beloved and powerfully emotional book has missed out on an important piece of childhood for the last 40-plus years.&; &;Common Sense Media

&;An exciting tale of love and adventure you&;ll never forget.&; &;School Library Journal
&;A book of unadorned naturalness.&; &;Kirkus Reviews
&;Written with so much feeling and sentiment that adults as well as children are drawn [in] with a passion.&; &;Arizona Daily Star
&;It&;s a story about a young boy and his two hunting dogs and . . . I can&;t even go on without getting a little misty.&; &;The Huffington Post
&;We tear up just thinking about it.&; &;Time on the film adaptation

Baker & Taylor
Young Billy having purchased two dogs for fifty dollars is determined to create the valley's best hunting team

Publisher: New York : Laurel-Leaf Books, 2001, c1961
ISBN: 9780553274295
Branch Call Number: J RAW
Characteristics: 249 p. ; 18 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 31, 2020

Good, but kinda creepy when Rubin \ a kid falls on his axe and dies!!!

ArapahoeTina Oct 24, 2019

This made me cry so much as a kid, but as an adult, it didn't hold up. I had a hard time with the hunting and killing for sport and the general disregard of the natural world as something to be endlessly taken from and plundered. My adult conservationist self gives this one a thumbs down.

Jul 13, 2019

This book was a story that I read for hours without stopping! The nice touch between the sad parts of the story and the messages and lessons behind it really makes me proud to have read this well-detailed book by the author Wilson Rawls. Great book overall, though, about a boy with his friendly two hounds, very well written.

Mar 16, 2019

As an adult, I thought I could handle the sad stuff I knew this book was famous for. I could not. Still, I don't feel that there's a better book about the kind of relationships that develop between a dog and a child.

Feb 28, 2019

Tear jerker.. great book about young man wanting dogs & caring for them..

Feb 25, 2019

Engaging historical novel about the deep love between a boy and his two dogs.

JCLHeatherM Feb 04, 2019

Discover the heartbreaking meaning of the Red Fern through the touching story of a young boy and his two hound dogs. Never far apart, no matter where they are, their love was strong enough to keep them together.

Jan 30, 2019

Classic book, 3 yrs ago, in grd 2 i read this book, it was a little to hard to read and very violent with deaths but it was a good book. Im gonna borrow it again.

Aug 17, 2018

Classic. Read it with both my children. It doesn't matter how many times I read this book, it is so touching. A masterpiece. A must read for everyone.

Jun 09, 2018

Oh my gosh, so sad! Really good book though.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
ArapahoeTina Nov 14, 2019

ArapahoeTina thinks this title is suitable for 6 years and over

May 28, 2019

blue_dog_17792 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Jan 30, 2019

wenbo thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 17

Jun 28, 2018

Always_a_MarySue thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Apr 04, 2017

chrisbrock thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Orange_Horse_142003 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99

Aug 06, 2013

andryjay thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

May 31, 2013

red_turtle_234 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

May 31, 2013

green_deer_118 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

May 31, 2013

black_lion_304 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

View All Ages


Add Notices
Aug 11, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: There are a couple. Someone accidentally gets killed in chapter 13.

Feb 12, 2013

Violence: .

Dec 15, 2010

Violence: This title contains Violence.


Add a Summary
Feb 05, 2009

The adult Billy Colman narrates his childhood memories. Living with his Papa and Mama and three sisters in the Ozark Mountains in Oklahoma, all 10-year-old Billy wants is two hounds with whom he can hunt "coons" (raccoons). His family cannot afford them, however, so Billy works odd jobs for two years and saves up the money to buy them. Only then does he tell his plan to his Grandpa, who helps arrange the purchase.

After an initial adventure in which they scare off a mountain lion, Billy and his two hounds - a small, intelligent female dog he names Little Ann and a stronger, determined male dog he calls Old Dan - are inseparable. They learn all the angles of coon hunting and make a great team; no wily coon can outsmart Little Ann, and Old Dan is strong and sure. More than that, the dogs seem bonded to each other, and to Billy, in mysterious ways. Both dogs' lives are endangered at different points, but with bravery and intelligence they all help each other out of jams.

One day, the cruel, trouble-making Pritchard boys bet Billy that his dogs, whose reputations grow with each new coonskin, cannot "tree" (chase up a tree, at which point the hunter usually chops down the tree) the elusive "ghost coon" in their neck of the woods. On the hunt, the elder Rubin accidentally falls on Billy's ax as he tries to kill Billy's dogs (who are fighting the Pritchards' dog). The incident haunts Billy.

To cheer Billy up, Grandpa enters him in a championship coon hunt. Billy, Grandpa, and Papa go to the contest. Immediately, Little Ann wins the beauty contest. Billy qualifies for the championship round in which his dogs bag three coons, but a blizzard sets in as they chase away a fourth one necessary for the win. The men eventually find the half-frozen dogs circling a treed coon. When they kill the fourth coon, they win the championship and the $300 jackpot.

The family is ecstatic over Billy's success, and Mama is especially grateful for the money. But some weeks after the championship, Billy and the dogs encounter a mountain lion. The dogs save Billy's life, and they manage to kill it, but not before it inflicts serious damage on Old Dan. He dies, and without him, Little Ann loses the will to live and dies a few days later. Billy buries them next to each other and cannot understand why God took them from him.

With the money the dogs have earned over time from the coonskins and the jackpot, the family can finally move to town in the spring and the children can receive an education. On the day they move, Billy revisits his dogs' graves. He finds a red fern has sprouted up between the two mounds. He knows the Indian legend about a little boy and girl who had been lost in a blizzard and froze to death. When their bodies were found in the spring, a red fern had sprouted between them. As the legend goes, only an angel can plant the seeds of a red fern, which never dies and makes the spot sacred.

The adult Billy reflects that he would like to revisit the Ozarks and all his childhood haunts. He is sure the red fern is still there, larger now, for he believes its legend.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top