Review: Hank the Cowdog

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I’ve heard about the Hank the Cowdog books for years, but I’d never read any of them until I had to opportunity to review them recently. We received a package to review that included the book, Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse, the CD, Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog, and the game, Tornado.

Although my family is new to the Hank series, the series is not new to fans or libraries across the country. The series, about Hank — a cowdog and head of ranch security — is written by John Erickson, a cowboy himself. Erickson wrote the first book over twenty-six years ago as a series that the family could sit down and read aloud together. Written through the eyes of the often witty, sometimes surly canine, Hank, the books have since sold more than six million copies. Each of the fifty-four books is available from the website in paperback ($4.24 – $5.24) and hardback ($12.49 – $13.49).

The dialogue between Hank and his dim-witted companion, Drover, is often fast-paced and sarcastically comical, while showcasing Hank’s dry wit, such as when he points out that, “it doesn’t hurt to repeat yourself repeat yourself once in awhile.” Although the book started off a bit slow, I found myself laughing by the second chapter and was impressed with the author’s ability to share the story through the eyes of a dog in such a believable way.

The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse (and, I’d guess, the other books in the series) are written at around a mid-third grade level, with an interest level of probably 3rd – 5th grade and, although they’re written for the entire family, may really pique the interest of any reluctant reader boys you may have. One word of caution: many families may be offended by some of the language used in the book. While there is, of course, no profanity, there are words such as stupid, numbskull, and dummy and the mom threatens to “murder” the dog.

The CD, Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog ($3), features story excerpts from ten of the books, and is read by the author, John Erickson in the old radio show style, complete with sound effects. Although the audio series won the 1993 Audie for Outstanding Children’s Series from the Audio Publisher’s Association, some parents may not be impressed with the language (dumb, stupid, heck) or the themes of some of the songs such as A Pox, a Pox on Emily Post or We Don’t Give a Hoot.

We loved the game, Tornado, which is played very much like one of our family favorites, Aggravation. Tornado is for 2-4 players, ages 5 and up and is available for $12.99. It makes the perfect travel game because the plastic playing surface also serves as a locking storage case. Everything fits inside and it has sliding tabs that keep the case securely locked.

The playing pieces are pegs that fit securely into the slots on the game board and you “roll” your turn with a spinner housed in a plastic bubble. The entire game folds to a little larger than 4 X 8.5, making it the perfect size to carry into restaurants or doctors’ offices where there may be a long wait. The game also comes with a bonus cassette tape featuring the award-winning audio, The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado.

Visit Hank the Cowdog’s Official Website for more information about the entire series, as well as other Hank the Cowdog products.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Actual results may vary.

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6 Comments

  1. John Erickson had an article in thie month's Texas Homeschool Coalition's Magazine. He talked bout his writing process and NOT being a tortured writer, lol. That he has a steady routine and approaches it like other work. pretty neat.

  2. I've never heard of Hank the Cowdog! Where have I been? It sounds like a fantastic read! You always have such informative reviews, thanks!!

  3. Some how or other, my 11 year old son started reading these books a loud to my 6 year old son, with all the voices. They have read ALL the copies in the library system! No one enacts a vulture loosing his lunch like my boy.

    Is this male bonding or something?

    -Christine in Massachusetts

  4. We love Hank! another homeschool family introduced us and my husband loves to read them to the kids.
    I have many fond memories of Hank and Drover and the whole ranch crew!

  5. My oldest son found Hank the Cowdog — I think as a audiobook — at the library a few years ago. Love it!

  6. We listened to our first Hank book this evening on audio cd and I was shocked and saddened by the use of the words dumb, stupid, hag, moron, idiot and so on…
    You warned readers in your review but that was the first I heard anything negative about the books. I’m so disappointed, I hoped we’d found a series to cherish.

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