Title: The Case of the Most Ancient BoneHank the Cowdog #50 - The Case of the Most Ancient Bone
Author: John R. Erickson
Illustrator: Gerald L. Holmes
Pages: 239
Reading Level: 7-10
Star Rating: ★★

It’s Hank in his golden 50th story!

The Story.

Elhbur, snurbofs, slorks. Man howdy is it hot on a ranch in the middle of summer. It’s enough to make a dog – even a high pedigree cowdog such as myself – want to melt away and awake in a happier place. Meaning one where you aren’t actually melting. Because, I know this is scary for the little kids, but I am actually melting.

Oh, look, there’s little Alfred. He’s carrying what looks like a water pitcher. What’s that? Oho! He says he’s going to set up a lemonade stand down at the end of the road, and would I like to be business partners with him. Well, sonny, so long as business partners get a share of the products so to speak, yeah, count me in!

That’s when we met David Wilkens, down at the end of our road. He invited Little Alfred and me (actually, he invited me, and said Little Alf could come if he wanted) down to his digs. Literally, digs. He’s an arkinsawologist, which means that he digs up stuff. Anyway, little did I know that this invitation would put me nose to nose with one of the biggest tests of my career – the test of the most ancient slurp, bone. Slurp. Man that sounds tempting…

Can Hank resist the urge to chomp down on the valuable bone, or will he succumb to temptation?

Discussion.

This book is the 50th in the Hank the Cowdog series and, in honor of that fact, Mr. Erickson wrote a bonus-length story that is basically twice the length of the typical Hank story. I thought I would love all of the extra time with Hank, but I found that instead, the story seemed stretched a little thin with more distractions and less compact story-telling.

Here are a few Hankisms for your benefit.

“Son, I know how you must feel, but try to remember that in the game of Life, those who finish last are almost as important as those who finish first. The only difference is that if you finish last, you’re a loser.” [pg. 75]

Well that’s certainly… true…

“I beamed her a look of righteous indigestion.” [pg. 237]

:D

“If at first you don’t succeed, get a bigger hammer.” [pg. 101]

Such practical advice, Hankie.

“We should never make quick judgments about a person, just because he has a lousy personality.” [pg. 192]

Absolutely. In this next quote, Hank finds himself with his back two legs duct-taped together. (It’s too complicated to explain why.)

“Suddenly I felt a rush of courage. Old Tripod was an inspiration, not only to me, but to dogs all over the world. Cut off one of our legs, and we’ll come back with three. Put us in shackles and chains, and we’ll learn to hop. We’ll never surrender, we’ll never give up, because the heart of a dog is bigger than one leg!

Could I do this? YES! I would do it to honor the memory of Tripod and all the other three-legged dogs in the world who had struggled to overcome anniversary . . . university . . . who had struggled to overcome veracity . . . phooey.

It really burns me up when I’m in the middle of an inspirational speech and can’t think of the right word, so let’s mush on with the story.

Adveristy. There we go. Dogs who had overcome adversity.” [pg. 207]

There is quite a lot of bickering amongst everybody – Hank and Drover, Hank and Pete, Hank and Sally May, Sally May and Little Alfred, etc., etc. This is partly due to the heat and partly due to none of them having especially great relationships with each other.

Hank meets a dog named Saffron with whom he immediately falls in love. He marvels over the fineness of her eyes and nose and is generally moony when he’s around her. In the end, he decides that her family is too loony for him to join stock with.

In one illustration, Hank has a mental image of Sally May yanking on his ears and his eyes popping out of their sockets with spring-like attachments.

Around the dig, artifacts are called prehistoric and a bone is referred to as being 12,000 years old.

When Hank is sleeping  at the digs, he claims that he could hear the ancient bone calling out to him to rescue it from going to a museum. Perceptive readers will understand that Hank is being deceptive with this claim, but younger readers may be more impressionable.

Basic euphemisms – ‘gee’, ‘darn’, ‘heck’, and the like – are used throughout the text.

Conclusion. Read The Case of the Saddle House Robbery first.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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