Title: The Garbage Monster from Outer SpaceHank #32 - The Garbage Monster from Outer Space
Author: John R. Erickson
Illustrator: Gerald L. Holmes
Pages: 126
Reading Level: 9 & up
Star Rating: Undecided

Hank returns in yet another tale of law and order from the ranchlands of Texas.

The Story.

Arkle, snobsluf… Drover! A gang of raccoons is vandalizing Sally May’s trash cans. Quick, wake up, organize, attack, bonsai! Evil must be thwarted, justice prevail! See the cowards run – how easily they are driven from these deliciously amazing, terribly tempting, yummy chicken bones…

So, maybe Hank did start to snack on them. But just because he was found, well, IN the trash can, is no reason for Sally May to assume that he was the one who tipped them over in the first place! How could she accuse him – head of Ranch Security, symbol of law and order – of this criminal deed? Fine, if that’s what she thought of him, he’d show her; he’d abandon her to ravaging raccoons and become an outlaw himself!

Will Hank realize that deserting the cause of justice is never proper, even when he has been terribly wounded by those he loves?

Cautions.

One thing I’ve learned about Hank stories is that often the title has to do only with an episode in the story. Take this story for example – the “garbage monster” (though foreshadowed in the first chapter) only appears for six pages before being correctly identified as a raccoon. The tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and bone monsters are all mentioned.

Also, apparently, Hank and Little Alfred are able to speak to each other.

One thing I did appreciate was M. Erickson’s addressing of the “if it feels right it must be right” issue. Although he knows he shouldn’t, Hank plunders a trash can upon being urged “What [smells] great can’t be wrong, right?” by Eddy the raccoon, but later admits that “What I did was wrong. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway. A guy has to pay for his bad habits.” [pg. 122]

Also, Hank tells that “There’s a huge difference between a fib and a lie. A fib is a small lie for your own good.” [pg. 6] Hank seems to genuinely believe this and often stretches the truth (which makes the narrative very funny, but isn’t quite a good example). Usually Hank’s “fibs” don’t do him any good and even make things tougher for him.

Hank once again encounters Missy, the coyote princess, whose qualities of beauty he describes in detail and with much rapture.

Hank and co. often engage in arguments and name-calling. Mild euphemisms (gosh, darn, heck, etc.) are used regularly.

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 think it likely 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 Garbage Monster from Outer Space not the entire Hank the Cowdog series.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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