Wednesday, August 19, 2009

hank the cowdog

“There’s a thin line between heroism and stupidity, and I try to stay on the south side of it.”

I laughed out loud at that line – twice. The humor in John Erickson’s Hank the Cowdog series is subtle enough to sneak up on you sometimes and just countrified enough to make you laugh in spite of yourself.

When we were asked to review a CD, a book from the series and the new Tornado game, I said, “Hank who?” I promise, my library card is almost worn out and I have spent the GNP of some countries on I just missed this one, I guess, and that’s a shame. I know a teenager in my household who would have been all over these books back in the day when Junie B. Jones ruled her bookshelf. The boy, who just doesn’t appreciate subtlety yet, is enjoying Erickson’s head of ranch security, but I know his sister would have loved it even more.

Erickson has created a series of 54 Hank books and he reads the audio versions himself, with voice characterizations and original songs. The CDs are wildly popular and I can see why. Our CD sampler made for a dead quiet (except for laughter) car ride. My son is still reading “The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse,” (I am not making that up) and I hear chuckles from the couch as he reads.


For wee littles, I think this series would make for fun read-alouds. Note that you may choose to edit Hank’s language as you read – it’s all G-rated, but “idiot” and “moron” are used on occasion. It’s cowdog talk, you know, and easy enough to deal with, just as we did when our then 2-year-old would only watch the original “101 Dalmatians.” I heard Cruella call Horace and Jasper one of those words at least 42,000 times, but my daughter knew that wasn’t a word we would allow her to say. YMMV.

I haven’t taken the Tornado game in the car yet, but it does pack up neatly in its own case, which is nice for siblings in close quarters. My son enjoys the game, but I think those who have spent more time getting to know the series’ characters will really love it.


Mosey over to to see the complete book list and a variety of cute products. You can learn more about the author (a former Harvard Divinity School student) and his ranch, too.

Hank’s Tales and Tunes CD ($3) includes portions of audio books and songs from the series.

The Tornado game is $12.99 and includes a bonus cassette tape.

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