Title: The Further Adventures of Hank Cowdog
Author: John R. Erickson
Reading Level: 10 & up
Star Rating: Undetermined
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Yep, it’s Hank again….
Hank’s the bearer of one intense job. But he bears it nobly. Why, only this morning he rescued the ranch from an evil monster bird with bright shiny feathers that made a terrible roaring noise as it swooped over the ranch. But Hank held his ground and the frightened bird swooped off to terrorize another farm, leaving Hank pretty pleased with himself.
But a few minutes later when Sally May gives Hank’s fried egg to Pete the barncat, Hank is furious. Through the bedevilry of Pete, Hank gets his nose run up against the barb-wired fence and gets it all scratched up. He stares at his injuries, hoping they’ll improve (time is said to do that, you see), but they don’t. Instead of getting better, things get worse, because all that staring at his own nose made Hank catch a severe case of Eye-Crosserosis, don’t you see. And now, Hank can barely see! What’s to be done about this?
Well, Pete the barncat decides to take advantage of Hank’s affliction and afflict him worser. By the connivingest of strategies, Pete leads Hank out into the middle of the prairie….. and dumps him there. Hank is lost on his own ranch! What a disgrace!
Thankfully, he runs across his old buzzard friends, Wallace and Junior. They tell him of someone they think can heal his Eye-Crosserosis: Madame Moonshine, a queer owl. But the way to her cave is fraught with many dangers – especially to someone with befuddled vision.
Can Hank make it to Madame Moonshine’s cave? Can she heal him? And most importantly, will Hank be able to get out of her cave?
Just in case you didn’t catch it, the roaring monster bird is an airplane. Here is the beginning of Hank and Drover’s encounter with the monster.
“What’s that noise?”
Drover looked up in the trees and rolled his eyes. “I don’t hear any…” And right then he heard the roar. His eyes got as big as saucers and he started to shiver. “What is it, Hank?”
“I don’t know, but we’re fixing to find out. I’ve got a hunch that it’s a silver monster bird.”
I turned my head just for a second, and when I looked back, Drover was gone. At first I thought he might have headed for the machine shed, but then I saw his gunnysack quivering.
“Get out from under there! We’ve got work to do. I’m putting this ranch under Red Alert.”
“But Hank, that thing roars!”
The roar was getting louder all the time. “Come on, son, it’s time for battle stations. If that bird lands, it’s liable to be a fight to the death.”
“But Hank, I . . . my foot hurts and I got a headache.”
I took a corner of his gunnysack in my teeth and jerked it away. And there was Drover, my assistant Head of Ranch Security, quivering like a tub full of raw liver. “Get up and stay behind me. This ain’t drill. This is Red Alert.”
“Okay, Hank, I’ll try but . . . Red Alert’s pretty serious, isn’t it . . . oh, my foot hurts!” [pg. 5]
“I just shook my head. Sometimes Drover acts more like a cat than a cowdog. Makes me wonder . . . oh well.” [pg. 13]
Hank is horrified when he discovers his Eye-Crosserosis.
“Look at me, Drover, and tell me what you see.”
He studied me for a long time, squinted one eye and then the other, looked me up one side and down the other.
“Well, what do you see? Go ahead and say it, just spit it out.”
“Look deeper. Details.”
He looked deeper. “A cowdog?”
“The face, Drover, study the face.”
He cocked his head. “Oh yeah, I see it now. It looks terrible, Hank.”
“I was afraid of that. It’s pretty obvious, huh?”
“Do you think I look disfigured? I mean, I don’t want to go around looking like a loon or a freak or something.”
“I’d say you look kind of disfigured, Hank.”
That was discouraging news. I tried walking around and ran into one of the legs on the gas tanks. “The worst part of it is that it’s messed up my vision. Can’t see worth a rip.”
“Huh. That’s really strange, Hank. I wouldn’t have thought it would do that.”
“Oh, it’s not so strange, when you think about it. What do you reckon I ought to do to cure it?”
“Beats me. Maybe a mud pack would help.”
When a guy can’t see, he’ll try most anything. I followed Drover down to the sewer and he helped me up to the edge of the water. I dug balls of mud with my paws and plastered them over both eyes. Then I laid down to let the healing set it.
Must have laid there for half an hour. “What do you think now, Drover? Have we waited long enough?”
“Well . . . it still looks the same to me. Maybe you better go another hour.”
“Maybe so.” About fifteen minutes later, I began to think about what he’d said. “Wait a minute. What do you mean, it still looks the same?” I heard him snore and wheeze. “Drover, wake up! What do you mean, it still looks the same to you?”
“Huh, what? What do I mean? Well, I guess that means it don’t look any different.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your nose. It still looks beat-up and scabby to me.”
“My nose! I wasn’t talking about my nose, you little dunce.”
“How could a scabby nose have anything to do with my vision?”
“I wondered about that.”
I scraped off the mud and opened my eyes. I saw two Drovers staring at me. “It didn’t help. I’m still afflicted.”
“Hey! Your eyes are crossed!”
“Very good, Drover. It only took you . . . what, forty-five minutes to pick that up?”
“More like an hour.”
“That’s just great.” I tried to think through my problem, one step at a time. “Well, this is a fine mess. What am I going to do now?”
“Well . . . if your eyes are crossed, maybe you could uncross ‘em.”
“What a wonderful idea, Drover.”
“Yeah, it just came to me in a flash.”
“I bet that was quite a flash.”
“It was pretty good.”
“Well, here’s another flash. I already thought about that.”
“And I tried it.”
“And it didn’t work.”
“So do you have other flashes?” [pgs. 26-29]
After Hank is afflicted with Eye-Crosserosis he challenges a Doberman Pinscher to a pitched battle. Here is Hank’s account of the events.
I faced the enemy. I was seeing double, which wasn’t so good since it was hard to judge which one to fight. I picked the one on the left, sucked in my gut, and made a dive for him.
It was the wrong one. I took a ferocious bite out of the blue sky, and while I was in the air, Rufus got me, and I can’t finish the story.
I’m sorry, I hate to leave things hanging but I just can’t tell the rest of it. Maybe Drover will write his memoirs one of these days and you can find out what happened. [pg. 41]
Hank ends his story by getting into a scrape and remarking
Those of us who live on the heights must live with the judgments of small minds. We can only hope that in the next life justice will reign.
It reigns here, but it also hails. [pg. 127]
After Hank comes down with Eye-Crosserosis, Drover discovers that he can act however he wishes towards Hank and the rest of the ranch. In one scene he and Pete the barncat perform a mock play in which they ridicule Hank. In another scene, Drover parades in front of and taunts Hank. I found it a rather interesting scene, because, although fascinated by his new freedom from Hank’s moral restraint, Drover is miserable about the way he is treating Hank. Yet he still does it. And, if I can say this without sounding entirely ridiculous, it’s a striking example of hating the flesh but acceding to it (Romans 7:7-24). That said, Drover’s actions are not a sterling example for the young reader.
Madame Moonshine plays the function of a ‘good’ witch who uses magic to effect ‘good’ ends. She uses a hypnotic formula to cure Hank and is able to control the actions of ants and rattlesnakes with a flick of her wing. As far as witches go she’s harmless enough, but since God is content to condemn them to capital punishment, I cannot evince a partiality for them. She is only present in one scene, but it is an extensive one.
Hank tells several lies to effect escapes and impress his co-workers.
As in The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, Hank displays an inordinate amount of affection towards Beulah, dreaming about her and kissing her on the cheek.
The words ‘gosh’, ‘heck’, ‘darn’, ‘dadgum’, ‘dang’, ‘son-of-a-gun’, ‘dickens’, and ‘golly’ and used regularly. There is some name-calling.
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: The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog is the second book in the Hank the Cowdog series. Click here to read my review of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog.