Friday, July 24, 2009

Hank the Cowdog

image We received several Hank the Cowdog products from Maverick Books to review this week—a Tornado game , a paperback book—The Case of the One-Eyed Stud Horse and Hank’s Tales and Tunes cd. Emily was quite excited to open this box of goodies!

I have heard of the Hank the Cowdog series of books, and I know that some families love them, but we had personally never seen the series, so I was interested to see what they were all about.

Hank is a bungling, blustering “cowdog,” who lives on a Texas ranch and has all sorts of silly adventures.

The Case of the One-Eyed Stud Horse ($4.24) by John Erickson

I found this to be a delightful book. There was not an involved plot in this particular book, just a simple story packed with wonderful imagination and humor! This book is very funny. Hank is so “full of himself,” so sure that he is in charge of making sure the entire ranch runs smoothly, and so absolutely incompetent one can’t help but laugh. I found life from the viewpoint of a dog quite amusing as Hank described the humans’ “irrational” behavior. I think children as young as five would enjoy these books, but there is a lot of humor aimed at older children and adults as well. I found Hank's constant use of scrambled proverbs and metaphors funny. “You can’t toot your own horn if you’ve only got one string on your fiddle.” “Don’t count your chickens before they cross the road.” And so on.

Tornado game ($12.99)

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The Tornado game is very similar to Trouble or Aggravation. Each player has 3 characters (Hank, Drover, and Junior the Buzzard) who have to make their way around the board. There are a few twists to the game—“tornado” spaces that can send a player forward or back, and a separate starting point on the board for the buzzard. Players can land on each other to send the other back to “start.” I love the game board! It is colorful and the adorable playing pieces fit into holes as they move around the board. The compact board folds for travel and holds all the pieces inside. My only complaint about the game is that our spinner was sticking. That was frustrating as we played the game.

The game also came with an audio cassette that was an abbreviated version of The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado.

Tales and Tunes cd ($3.00)

The Tales and Tunes cd contains excerpts from the stories and songs from various books. My 9 year old loved this cd. My older girls (17 and 21) hated it and begged to turn it off! Obviously the music targets a certain age group! I enjoyed the recordings and think they added a lot to the story—the Texas accents, folksy humor and ranch talk was even better when listened to aloud. I can certainly see the attraction of the audio tapes and cds and think they would be fun to listen to on car trips. However, I did have a few problems with the cd. Emily’s favorite song is “A Pox on Emily Post,” sung by Junior the Buzzard. Now hearing a buzzard sing about how he hates manners is quite amusing. I don’t care for it so much when my 9 year old is singing it around the house. Another song bothered me much more, however, with lines like, “If you don’t like this song, we’ll beat you up” and “you may think we’re dumb and stupid.” These are all sung by the animal characters, but still….

Summary

The Hank the Cowdog series is entertaining and well worth checking out for elementary-aged children. The stories are both fun and contain good morals. Parents may want to pre-screen the books and cd’s however, if they are concerned that their children may imitate the questionable language.

To read more reviews of Hank the Cowdog, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew!

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