Title: The Wounded Buzzard on Christmas EveThe-Wounded-Buzzard-on-Christmas-Eve1
Author: John R. Erickson
Pages: 112
Reading Level: 10 & up
Star Rating: Undetermined

Yep, it’s Hank again…

The Story.

It’s the day before Christmas, and as Head of Ranch Security, Hank is placing the ranch under red alert. A highly suspicious vehicle equipped with a flatbed, a high-lift jack, and a special highly sensitive radar antenna has just penetrated ranch premises, and it’s up to Hank’s highly trained self to avert any danger. Because this vehicle is driven by a CATTLE RUSTLER.

Or wait. Is that really…. Why it’s Slim! Of course, Hank knew it all along, but it’s understandable that the rest of us, not being as intelligent as Hank, should misidentify Slim’s old red pickup.

See, the real story is that Slim has a day off and out of the goodness of his heart offers (is coerced into) taking Hank, Drover, and Little Alfred with him into town. Little Alfred wants to see the Christmas parade, and Hank and Drover welcome any chance to escape from the ranch and enjoy well deserved reprieves from their intense labors. So, with Slim muttering non-complimentary words under his breath, the four of them set off for town.

But they’re about to get company. That’s right, company – in their pickup truck. Somehow, someway, Wallace the buzzard manages to crash into Slim’s front windshield, wiping out the glass, the kids, and himself. How can Hank and Little Alfred convince Slim that it’s their Christmas duty to take care of old Wallace? And will Wallace ever recover from his brain-blowing accident?

Funny Quotes.

Slim gives Hank a rather measly bone which Hank rejects for reasons of pride, but which Drover has no qualms about accepting. Here is their encounter later in the day.

I gave him a withering glare.

“You ate my bone.”

“Was that yours?”

“Of course it was mine, you dunce. That was my Christmas present from Slim.”

“Oh. I thought you didn’t want it.”

“Is that why you turned away from me and growled and slobbered and made all those disgusting sounds while you ate?”

“No, I was hungry.”

“I’ve never been so embarrassed. All I can say is that you have no pride.”

“Yeah, but I sure got the bone.”

“That tells us a lot about your morals and values, doesn’t it, Drover? You’d actually choose the momentary pleasure of a measly bone over the long-term satisfaction that comes from pride? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Oh, it might depend on the size of the bone.”

I looked him in the eyes. “Drover, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in you.”

“Good, ‘cause I don’t want to know.”

“But for starters, let me say that you’re a slob.”

“Thanks, Hank, and it was a great bone.” [pg. 21-22]

Slim commences his town shopping with strict injunctions for Hank and Drover to behave themselves. So they lounge around in the pick-up truck…..

Whilst we were watching the cars and the people, I noticed that Drover had begun snapping at snowflakes. I mean, he really seemed to be getting a thrill out of it. For some reason that irritated me.

“Why are you doing that?”

“Who, me? Oh, I don’t know. I never stopped to think about it.”

“Well, stop and think about it. What’s the purpose of it? What good’s it doing?”

“Well, let’s see.” He thought. “I don’t know.”

“Think harder. If there’s a purpose behind it, I want to hear it. If there’s no purpose, you should quit.”

“Well, okay, let me think here.” He thought again. “I’ve got it now. Every snowflake I catch in my mouth is one that won’t pile up on the street, so I guess I’m preventing snowdrifts.”

“Preventing snowdrifts. Do you have any idea how many snowflakes you’d have to catch to prevent one snowdrift?”

“Well, let me think here. How many flakes are in a drift?”

“That depends on the size of the flakes.”

“Big flakes.”

“All right. Then it depends on the size of the drift.”

“Big drift.”

“Okay, there are a hundred and twenty-three big flakes in a big drift.”

“I’ll be darned, how’d you know that?”

“It’s common knowledge, Drover. You just have to know your weights and measures. For example, there are five toes in a foot, one foot in a boot, and three feet in a yard. There are five yards in a city block and ten blocks weigh a ton.”

“I’ll swan. How many toes in a ton?”

“A hundred and twenty-three, the same number as flakes in a drift.”

“How’d you come up with that?”

“Easy. You divide feet into toes, boots into feet, yards into boots, and multiply all that times four.”

“How come four?”

“Because four is the only whole number between three and five.”

“Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Do all numbers live in holes?”

“No. Some do but some don’t. It just depends.”

“Oh. Well, if all whole numbers don’t live in holes, what does?”

“Prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and cottontail rabbits.”

“How many rabbits in a hole?”

“Four.”

“Now, how’d you know that?”

“I told you, Drover, four is a whole number. You’re making me repeat myself.”

“Well … I still don’t understand how you can figger all that stuff in your head.”

I placed a paw on his shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “The head, Drover, that’s the important thing. At least you’ve come to the crux of the core.”

“What’s a crux?”

“A crux is like a small crutch, and I think that’s all the time we have for weights and measures. If you have any more questions, we’ll take them up at another time.” [pg. 70-73]

Hank delivers a few amazing one-liners.

“Every coin has a silver lining.” [pg. 33]

“I mean, friendship – the real thing, the genuine article – begins in the heart, not in the pocketbook, and even though you can pick a friend’s pocket, you can’t pick his heart.” [pg. 12]

“In this old life, a dog takes the roses as they come, even if they are a little wilted.” [pg. 55]

“Chinners never win and cheaters never weep.” [pg. 102]

Cautions.

Little Alfred attends the Santa Claus parade in town.

Hank sings a song called ‘A Pox, a Pox on Emily Post’ in which he expresses great disregard for Emily Post and manners in general.

Hank engages in a bravado fight with several town bully dogs. He also argues roughly with Pete the barncat.

At the end of the story, Junior the buzzard tells his father Wallace to shut up.

Hank tells Drover to chant a formula to make his eyes stop twitching. Hank records that Little Alfred is still at the ‘magical age’, when children can understand animal’s speech.

‘Derned’, ‘gosh’, ‘heck’, ‘danged’, ‘holy smokes’, ‘holy cow’, ‘dadgum’, and ‘dad-blamed’ are used throughout. There is some name-calling.

Conclusion. I, as a young adult, enjoy reading Hank the Cowdog. I find it offers me perspective and relaxation when I’m stressed, and, because of my age, I am able to enjoy the humor and leave the silliness behind. However, I do not believe that young readers will be able to read Hank the Cowdog without being encouraged in silliness and sarcasm. For this reason, I do not recommend Hank the Cowdog for young readers, while reserving the right to enjoy it myself.

Note: This is a review of The Wounded Buzzard on Christmas Eve, not the entire Hank the Cowdog series.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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