Title: The Trail of the Hunter’s HornThe Trail of the Hunter's Horn
Author: Billy C. Clark
Illustrator: Jim Marsh
Pages: 96
Reading Level: 10 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

From the world of coons and hounds comes this story of a boy and his pup!

The Story.

Jeb wants a hound pup more’n anything else in this here world. When he watches Uncle Jeptha work his hound, Lucy, he believes that a trailing hound is the beautifullest thing in all the world. But how to get a hound of his own? That’s the tough part.

And then, Uncle Jeptha makes a stunning offer. He offers to let Jeb have Lucy’s pup. Along with the pup, Uncl Jeptha gives Jeb a beautiful horn – a hunter’s horn. When Jeb and the pup have grown into the ways of the trail, Jeb will be able to blow the horn and the pup will respond.

Can Jeb navigate his way through doubts and disappointments to be a true hunter?

Discussion.

First off, I want to state that Billy Clark’s writing is beautiful. It really is. Not in a high-browed snobby way – in a lyrical, almost mythical way. He really brings alive the struggles and triumphs of Jeb journey with Mooneye, the pup, and the sweeping magnetism of the hills.

The pup is named Mooneye because one of his eyes is milky white. When Jeb, viewing this eye with disappointment, asks his Uncle about it, Jeptha spins him a grand old yarn – says that pups are only born with a mooneye if their mother howls to the moon, begging for it. He says it is a special mark of a great dog. Jeb believes him, but is destined to be crushed when another hunter tells him the truth – the white eye is blind.

When Jeb hears this, he recoils against the pup, ignoring it and blaming it for his hurt. He goes through a season of intense pain before finally coming to realize that it is not Mooneye’s fault and he doesn’t deserve to be deprived of affection over one bad eye.

Jeb’s grandmother, Grandma Quildy, is an interesting character. She is constantly reading her Bible and constantly saying that the Book tells her things –  things about particular people and particular situations that the Bible definitely never speaks of. This confusion is passed on to Jeb who views the Bible superstitiously and faith as a way to win what you want from God.

In the very last scene, Mooneye and Lucy tangle with a wildcat. The accompanying illustration is intense.

Conclusion. I enjoyed this story – read A Nose for Trouble first, then if you still want dog stories, try this one.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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