Title: The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud HorseThe-Case-of-the-One-Eyed-Killer-Stud-Horse
Author: John R. Erickson
Pages:  136
Reading Level: 9 & up
Star Rating: Undetermined

Yep, it’s Hank again…

The Story.

Drover’s emitting messages in code. No, seriously. He is. He said “Zebras wear pajamas but you can’t spot a leopard with a spyglass.” Any other dog might have been cowed by the depth and intricacy of that sort of a message being transmitted from a sleeping mutt, but we’re not talking about an average dog. We’re talking about the cleverest Head of Ranch Security ever. That’s right – Hank’s on the job.

And he’s just about to crack the code when Sally May slams the screen door. She not only wakes up Drover and thus terminates the investeegashun, but she’s carrying….. SCRAPS!

It would be pretty embarrassing to tell you all that happened next. I mean, between Pete and Drover and Sally May, well, it doesn’t matter how brilliant and hard-working a dog is, he’s never appreciated on his own territory. And to top it all off, Sally May’s gone and broke her leg, and she’s decided to blame HANK for it. I mean, how silly is that? Granted, Hank was sorta sprawled out across her path, but…. Can’t a gal look where she’s going?

The reason she’s really mad, though, is ‘cause her mother-in-law and two little girl cousins are coming over for a visit, and everything’s supposed to be in perfect order. Needless to say, being in perfect order wasn’t part of what the morning held for, well, anybody, really. So it isn’t just Hank’s fault. Uh-uh.

But the two little girls – ah! Simply gems! The cutest little, sweetest ever, darlingest pies…. Enough to make a fella fall in love, they are.

Ahem. But there’s a job to be done. A one-eyed killer stud horse is on the loose. There’s no telling where or when he might show up. Can Hank protect his the two little girls and Little Alfred from the mad horse? Or will they be torn to shreds by this ferosheratin’ beast?

Funny Quotes.

As usual, Hank and Drover consider it their duty to beat Pete to the scraps. As they rush to the arena of battle…

We went streaking up the hill, with me in the lead and Drover bringing up the rear. When we got to the yard gate, I glanced around and saw that we had succeeded in our first objective.

Sally May and Loper were there talking, but Pete was nowhere in sight. Ha ha, ho ho! In her right hand, Sally May held a plate, in her left a wooden spoon.

I turned to my assistant and gave him a worldly smile. “This is going to be a piece of cake, Drover.”

“Oh boy! Usually it’s burned toast and a busted egg.”

“What?”

“I said, usually it’s burned toast . . .”

“I heard that, Drover, but it shows that you misunderstood what I said.”

“Oh.”

“’Piece of cake’ is an expression, a figure of speech. It means, ‘This is going to be easy.’”

“Oh. Well, that’s easy enough.”

“Exactly. You see, Drover, sometimes our words have subtle meanings that go beyond the actual words. That’s the beauty of language, its many shades of meaning.”

“Yeah, and on a hot day that shade sure comes in handy.”

“Exactly. So there you are, son, a little lesson in the endless variety of language.”

“It’s pretty good, all right. Sure hope it’s chocolate.”

“What?”

“I’ve never had chocolate cake in the morning.”

For a moment I considered giving the runt a tongue lashing…. [pgs. 11-12]

Here are a few choice Hankerisms.

“Better late than tardy.” [pg. 20]

“You can’t toot your own horn if you’ve only got one string on your fiddle.” [pg. 39]

“All at once I didn’t feel like a million dollars. It was closer to $ 9.95.” [pg. 42]

“I often get a kick out of fooling with horses, and those kicks hurt.” [pg. 70]

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but you can just shut up.” [pg. 110]

While Hank is trying to ingratiate himself with Sally May and therefore get a better share of the leftovers…

“Suddenly I was seized by an impulse to lick her on the nose. I don’t know why. It just seemed the appropriate thing to do. My tongue shot out and gave her a big, loving, juicy, peace-making, forgiving, friendly cowdog lick on the nose.

And it was such a big extra special lick that some of it lapped over and got her on the mouth.

My goodness. You’d have thought that she’d been bitten by a water moccasin, the way she drew back and stiffened up.

“Don’t do that! I don’t like dogs who lick all the time! No, no, no. Don’t lick.

And here’s the real shocker. She not only wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, but she spit. Or is it “spitted?” “Spat?” She spatted, not at anyone in particular but in a way that made you think she’d just gotten a taste of poison.

Really shocked me. I mean, all those years I’d thought she was a proper lady, and then to see her spitting . . . well, it kind of disappointed me, I guess you’d say. I’d expected more from Sally May than spitting.

I turned to Drover and shrugged. “How do you please these people? They don’t want you to growl, they don’t want you to bark, they don’t want you to hamburgerize the cats. After years and years of working up the courage to show a little affection, you give ‘em a lick on the face and, whammo, they throw it right back at you.”

“Maybe she doesn’t like dogs.”

“And once you’ve been rebuked and rejected and scorned, you withdraw into the inner recessitudes of your dark self, and something happens to you, Drover. A guy begins to change in little ways. It makes him hard and cold and hard.”

“You said ‘hard’ twice.”

“It makes him think about running away and becoming an outlaw, a killer dog who howls in the night and spends his life looking for revenge.”

“I spent all day looking for a bone once.”

“Exactly. Yes, rejection is a terrible thing, Drover.”

“I guess so. Maybe you’d better not lick her in the face any more.”

I stared at the runt. “Is that all you can say? Is that all the comfort you can give me in this time of sorrow?”

“Well . . . you might try it and see if it helps.”

“A simple answer from a simple mind. I should have known better than to the expose the burning embers of my heart to the likes of you.”

“Heartburn’s pretty bad, but it beats hay fever.” [pgs. 25-27]

After Drover eats the eggs that Hank feels rightfully belong to him, Hank makes Drover sit in a corner for and repeat “Only a chicken would steal an egg from a friend” five hundred times. Here is when Hank goes to check up on Drover’s progress…

“I went down to the gas tanks and found Drover, standing with his nose pressed against the northeast angle-iron leg of the gas tanks. He was mumbling something.
“All right, son, it’s examination time. I presume you’ve been studying your lessons?”

“Sure have, Hank, and I’m bored.”

“Don’t worry about it. Anybody who had spent the last half-hour with you would have been bored.”

“So it’s not just me?”

“Not at all. It’s a perfectly natural reaction. But let me remind you, Drover, that this was punishment. I didn’t send you down here to be frivolous.”

“What does ‘frillivous’ mean?”

“The word is frivolous, and it means silly, unbusinesslike, unprofessional, greedy, self-centered, disrespectful, discourteous, disobedient, irreverent, and basically stupid.”

“Gosh, that’s quite a word.”

“Indeed it is, and it wouldn’t hurt you to remember it.”

“Yeah, and then I wouldn’t forget it.”

“Exactly. I think you’ll find, Drover, that a few fancy words, sprinkled here and there into your sentences, would help break the monogamy of your conversation.”

“Gosh. What happens when you break your mahogany?”

“You either fix it or it stays broke.”

“Don’t they paint mahogany sometimes?”

“Sometimes they do, but plywood is much cheaper. How did we get on the subject of plywood?”

“I don’t know. We were talking about big words.”

“Yes, that’s true. Plywood is a big word, Drover, and you should try to sprinkle it into your conversation more often. Who knows, you might fool someone.”

“Okay. You seen any plywood this morning?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Just trying to fool you.”

I couldn’t help chuckling at that. “Drover, if you really and truly want to fool Hank the Cowdog, you should bring camping gear, because it could take you weeks or even months.” [pg. 60-62]

Hank hears the killer-eyed stud horse approaching and is suspicious.

I turned to Drover. “Do you hear something?”

“What?”

“I said, do you hear something?”

“Well, I hear your voice, and birds, and a war going on.”

“That’s not a war, you imbecile, that’s Little Alfred playing trucks.” [pg. 114]

After getting in a tussle with the killer-eyed stud horse, Hank passes out and believes he’s completely passed on…

When I awoke, I was in Dog Heaven. I saw clouds floating past and two angels standing over me. I was a little surprised that I had made it into heaven without an argument at the gate.

I mean, I had always tried to live a good life and be a good dog, but I was also aware that I had, uh, certain blemishes on my record – such as the time I had eaten the T-bone steaks Sally May had left out to thaw, the time I had. . . .

Speaking of Sally May, there she was, standing above me and . . . HUH? Holding a shot-gun? Holy smokes, this wasn’t Dog Heaven! I’d gone to the other place! [pgs. 123-124]

Cautions.

Hank briefly encourages children to lie to their parents on the second page.

Hank mentions his love for Beulah in flowery language.

Little Alfred calls his mother a dummy. He is promptly swatted on the behind.

It is mentioned that Little Alfred is standing in the flowerbed naked. (Little Alfred is about four).

‘Gosh’, is used thirteen times, ‘heck’ five times, ‘darn’ and ‘gee’ twice.

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 review is of The One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse not the entire Hank the Cowdog series.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

 

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