Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heroes and Hounds by Bill Miller : Review

Carly is 11 years old and lives with her grandfather on a 200-acre Virginia farm while both parents serve in the military overseas. She loves the farm, and befriends all of the animals including a sneaky red fox that stalks her grandfather's prize chickens. Her best friend is her pony, Monroe, who shares her enthusiasm for adventure. Carly's constant dream is to ride with the Riverdale Hunt Club that passes through her grandfather's property. On one particularly rainy Saturday, Carly watches from her front porch as the finely dressed ladies and gentlemen ride to the hounds. Later in the day, Carly finds out that a young hound named Hampton has become lost and Carly is determined to find him and by so doing endear herself to the hunt's Master; perhaps to be asked to ride Monroe in an upcoming meet. Carly enlists the help of her friend, Freddie, but the adventure is just beginning. Carly, Monroe, Hampton and the red fox have no idea what dangers await them.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars
I loved the easy, relaxed way in which this story is told.   It took me back to the days when the pace of life didn’t seem as frantic as it often seems to be these days.  Carly is a young girl with a huge heart and the best intentions.  She is a normally obedient child who, we discover, has an inner core of steel and determination.

For me, Hammond steals the show.  He’s an amazing dog who somehow changes the lives of everyone.  Clever and loyal, Hammond is the lynchpin that ties this story together in a most satisfactory manner.

At first, I really disliked Strange Willie.  He’s a hard man who’s lived a hard, mostly solitary life, since returning from Vietnam. However, as the story unfolds; he plays an important role, while continuing to keep aloof from society.  In many ways, his story is a reminder of how marginalized a whole generation of men have become due to the divisive sentiments and political quagmire of a very unpopular conflict known as the Vietnam War.

This book, written for a younger generation, will also appeal to a much older demographic.  It’s an engaging read that will linger in thought long after the last page has been read. It is beautifully illustrated and lyrically written. Parents who read this book to their children will find themselves easily drawn into the adventure, as well.

Reviewed for World Literacy Cafe

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