Hank the Cowdog
The Case of the Blazing Sky

by John Erickson

John Erickson's The Case of the Blazing Sky (Hank the Cowdog #51)

Book review by Elizabeth Markoff

Ages 9-12

Courageous Cowdog Perfect Patsy for Poultry

Although Hank the Cowdog can save people from fires, he can be held captive by his appetite for chickens. In this installment of the series of the same name, he is maneuvered into a chicken coop by his enemy Pete, the ranch cat. He gets stuck in there when Pete bolts the door after he is unwilling to accept Hank's apology for chasing him up a tree.

Feeling that the chickens are looking for an explanation for his appearance there at night as they cluck at him, he says the following: “Hi there. My name's Joey and I'm going to be your tour guide. You may not believe this, but we're riding in a bus. See, you all signed up for our annual Fall Foliage Tour and, well, I”m here to see that you have a wonderful time, Ha ha.”

This is just one of many humorous short segments from The Case of the Blazing Sky, which is pure fun for adults and children alike. It is truly enjoyable as long as you decide not to think of it as a whodunit.

Hank, a dog, serves as the first person narrator of this tale. He works for rancher Loper and his wife, Sally Mae, on their ranch in Ochiltree County, Texas. His main jobs are to alert people about fires and protect the chickens.

He is subjective, communicating to anyone reading the book from a canine point of view. Hank doesn't sound like a dog, more like an average person taking us around for the dime tour of his ranch. In spite of this, he lacks the typical soul's sensibilities about the unusual, such as fire hazards and recognizing humans in welding gear.

Although Hank is Head of Ranch Security, he may fall asleep on the job with firefighting if someone is welding, a totally boring activity in Hank's mind even if the dry land and heat pose a likely threat. Therefore, he needs another set of four legs at his disposal, so he has his buddy, fellow dog Drover, who is almost always with him. Drover is probably a younger dog than Hank, so his senses are more keen, but he isn't necessarily any smarter as they share a similar misconception about Slim Chance, the cowboy they rescue. Slim needs to be saved when he loses touch with nature when he puts on his welding helmet and gear to repair the cow chute. He is so oblivious he doesn't notice the sparks from his welder. Furthermore, he can't hear Hank bark, kicks him and then has one of his pant legs catch on fire. Upon advice from Drover, Hank earnestly sinks his teeth into Slim, whose welding gear flies off in all directions, captured in a brilliant illustration by Gerald L. Holmes.

Earlier, both Hank and Drover think Slim Chance has become a monster after donning the welding outfit, which they have seen him do before. Nevertheless, they continue to think he is not the same person. The gear and noises Slim makes incite fear in Hank, who crashes into a fence while trying to run away.

Review - The Case of the Blazing Sky: Hank the Cowdog #51

Readers will find a plentiful supply of puns. While catching an inappropriate nap, Hank, unable to pronounce Drover's name as he tries to talk while awakening, says Driver, followed by him saying “My splurch was sleed...” for my speech was slurred. On the very first page, Hank says elephantly rather than elegantly, about which he quickly corrects himself. He doesn't have a speech impediment, but verbalizes anxiously before he realizes what he's actually saying.

I can guarantee a good time for anyone who wants to read The Case of the Blazing Sky, the 51st book in the Hank the Cowdog series.

Read more of Elizabeth's reviews.

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