Where the Red Fern Grows Book Summary

by Wilson Rawls14


A poignant tale of a boy and his two dogs, 'Where the Red Fern Grows' explores themes of determination, love, and loss in the Ozark Mountains.

What is Where the Red Fern Grows about

'Where the Red Fern Grows' by Wilson Rawls is a classic story about a young boy named Billy and his profound bond with his two hounds, Old Dan and Little Ann. Set in the Ozark Mountains during the Great Depression, the novel follows Billy as he works tirelessly to save enough money to buy the dogs and train them to become the best hunting team in the region. The narrative beautifully captures the gritty determination, adventurous spirit, and heartfelt loyalty shared between Billy and his dogs. The story takes a poignant turn with a tragic event, but ultimately leaves readers with a sense of hope and the enduring power of love.

Where the Red Fern Grows 5 Key Takeaways

Billy Saves for His Dogs

Young Billy works hard for two years to save enough money to purchase his two beloved hounds, Old Dan and Little Ann.

Training and Adventures

Billy trains his dogs to become a successful hunting team, and together, they achieve remarkable feats that make them the talk of the valley.

The Hunting Competition

Billy and his dogs enter a prestigious hunting competition, where they demonstrate their exceptional skills and determination, earning respect and admiration from all.

Tragic Loss

A tragic event leads to the heartbreaking loss of Old Dan and Little Ann, profoundly impacting Billy and his family.

The Red Fern

In the aftermath of the tragedy, a red fern grows between the graves of Old Dan and Little Ann, symbolizing hope, eternal love, and an enduring bond.

Where the Red Fern Grows Best Reviews

  • '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

Top Where the Red Fern Grows Quotes

  • 'I buried Little Ann by the side of Old Dan. I knew that was the way it had to be.'
  • 'With a heavy heart, I turned and walked away. I knew I was leaving the best part of my life behind.'
  • 'I’m sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds.'

Who should read Where the Red Fern Grows?

'Where the Red Fern Grows' is ideal for readers aged 9 to 14, but it appeals to anyone who appreciates stories about the loyalty and love between a boy and his dogs. It's a powerful, emotional read that teaches valuable lessons about determination, love, and coping with loss.

About the Author

Wilson Rawls was an American author best known for his beloved children's classic, 'Where the Red Fern Grows.' Born in 1913 in Scraper, Oklahoma, Rawls grew up in the Ozark Mountains, which provided the setting for many of his stories. Despite struggling with dyslexia, Rawls pursued his passion for storytelling, inspired by his mother's encouragement. His other notable work includes 'Summer of the Monkeys.' Rawls' contributions to children's literature have left an enduring impact on readers worldwide.

Where the Red Fern Grows FAQs

What is the main point of 'Where the Red Fern Grows'?

The book emphasizes themes of determination and man's relationship to dogs, exploring the deep bond and mutual loyalty between Billy and his hounds.

Why is the book 'Where the Red Fern Grows' so sad?

The book's emotional impact comes from the tragic deaths of Billy’s beloved dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, and the profound sense of loss and love that follows.

Is 'Where the Red Fern Grows' based on a true story?

The novel is an example of autobiographical fiction, drawing on Wilson Rawls' own experiences and his deep connection with the Ozark Mountains and his childhood dogs.