|Where the Red Fern Grows|
|First||Dogs (Mainly Hounds and Blue Ticks)|
|Third||Pet Animal Genre|
A country boy named Billy Colman lived happily in the mountains. He really wanted a coonhound, but his father said that they didn't have enough money. One day. when Billy was out in the woods, he found a magazine that sold red bone coonhounds for 25 dollars. He saved his money for two years so he could get two dogs. He didn't tell anyone about his plan except for his grandfather who worked at a shop. After his grandfather called the people who sold the dogs, he said that they were in Kentucky and he would take Billy to go get them next week. But Billy couldn't wait for the dogs, so he ran off at night. He went into the city were he met a group of school children, they thought he was weird and called him a "hill Billy." Billy finally got the two dogs, the smaller one was female, and the bigger one was male. The person gave him a bag with holes on the sides for the dogs to ride in and then gave him a soda pop. A group of boys pulled the small dog's ear, and Billy got in a fight with them, he was soon recused by a helpful man. He took the dogs home and found a tree with the names Ann and Dan, so he named his dogs Big Dan and Little Ann. He taught his dogs how to hunt for coons. He built a trap with the help from his grandfather, and then he had to cut down a tree for two days to get the coon out. He stopped when his hand started bleeding from the blisters. The wind blew the tree down and the coon ran out. He finally caught his first coon. Days later, Big Dan got caught in a must rat hole. Then Little Ann nearly drowned under a frozen lake, but was saved by Billy, who later got a cold. Billy bet two boys named Rubin and Rainie Pritchard 2 dollar if he could get the "ghost coon" up a tree. He did get the coon up the tree, but the boys changed the bet so he had to kill it. Then their blue tick came and started attacking Billy's dogs. Rubin grabbed Billy's ax so he could kill Billy's dogs. But Billy grabbed the ax, causing Rubin to slip and fall on the ax, killing him. Billy felt bad about killing Rubin so he put flowers on Rubin's grave. Later, his grandfather tells him about the coon hunting champion and his entered his dogs. Little Ann won the beauty contest. There was a storm, and his dogs got lost. Then they later found them and they ended up winning. When Little Ann and Big Dan were hunting, a mountain lion pounced at Billy, but the dogs jumped on it first, saving his life. The lion ripped open Big Dan's stomach, spilling his guts all over the trees. They tried to save him by cleaning his guts and putting them back in, but he died. Little Ann was so upset that she wouldn't eat, drink, or sleep, and then she died. His mother said that the dogs probably died since they were going to go to the city, and they would have had to leave Billy behind with his grandfather so his dogs would get to continue hunting, and God wanted the family together. When they are about to leave, Billy walked up to the grave, where there is a red fern flower growing between the graves, and he said "I believe in the legend of the red fern."
In the second book: A Second Chance,Billy later gets another set of dogs and moves back to the hills, though the two male dogs remind him of Little Ann and Big Dan. He named his new dog team Rupin and Rainie, after the Pritchard boys. His second coon hunting championship ends with Billy in third place. He marries the girl who beat him and got first, Sara Cooper. Rupin later gets hit by a car, and Billy refuses to bury him with his first team, and instead puts him by the tree he first caught a coon in. Sara loses one of her team as well, this time to a pickup and buries him next to Rupin. The two remaining coon dogs learn to work together, and the next championship lands them in first. They have three little boys, Charlie, Ben, and Karl, and a little girl named Emily. As Rainie got older, he grew more and more violent, and soon Billy was forced to ban his children from going near the prize-winning dog. Emily did not heed her father's warnings, and one stormy night goes to put Rainie in the barn, since he'd been tied to a tree to avoid him killing the chickens. The dog lashed out as she tried to untie him, and his razor teeth punctured her arm. She screamed as Rainie leapt upon her, and Billy showed up. He chased Rainie back, as the hound would only obey him, and pulled Emily out of harm's way. They tried desperately to stop Emily's bleeding, but she never regained consciousness. Billy had a private ceremony for her, and they buried her next to Little Ann and Big Dan, a red fern resprouted there the next spring. Billy took his old coon dog deep into the woods, not wanting his sons to see the dog put down. The docile hound laid still as Billy raised his ax, but a flashback of Rupin Pritchard stops him, and he runs the dog off instead of killing it. As he watches the greying-brown tail vanish into the woods, Billy Colman swears he will never get mixed up with coon dogs again.