Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We've Met Hank!

As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

We were introduced to Hank the Cowdog a couple of months ago when a fun little package arrived from Maverick Books. I'm not sure how it is that we went so long without hearing of Hank, because it seems that he is quite popular. I've had lots of friends who have since commented that their kids have read and enjoyed this Cowdog's tails...I mean tales before.

John Ericson, author and voice of Hank, has penned over 50 Hank the Cowdog books. These easy chapter books would be particularly good for your reluctant reader as they are chock-full of humor and ranching adventures. My 8 year old quickly claimed our copy of The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse to read. As with all of the Hank books, it didn't matter that he hadn't read any others in the series. From the back of the book:

"Things are looking pretty bleak for Hank the Cowdog. First he gets sick on poisoned bacon grease. Then he accidentally trips Sally May-and she ends up with a broken ankle. And if that’s not bad enough, he gets stuck playing dress-up with Amy and Ashley, Little Alfred’s cousins. But when Turto the Killer Stud Horse breaks free and charges at the girls, Hank knows it’s up to him to protect them. He’ll show that one-eyed horse who’s boss-even if it means risking his own life!"

Gavin(8) said he liked the book. I asked him if he would like to read other Hank books and he said that there were a couple of the stories that he would want to read but that he liked to listen to the CDs better. This was no big surprise to me as we had also received Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog Audio CD. This CD sells for only $3 and includes 9 original songs and excerpts from 10 Hank books.

The kids have thoroughly enjoyed this CD and ask to listen to it over and over. The songs and audio sound effects really make the stories come alive. I can't write this review without warning you that both the book and the CD have quite a bit of sarcastic Cowdog humor, including name calling. But I felt like it was in character and my kids know better than to repeat such behavior. I even got a couple of "are-you-gonna-let-us-listen-to-this?" looks once the song, "Don't Show Your Hiney to a Bear" starting playing. However, I thought that was quite reasonable advice...(smile).

Lastly, we also received Tornado! The wildest Race and Chase GAME ever! This travel-sized Hank boardgame plays much like Trouble, but with cute Hank characters. It sells for $12.99 and has also been much-loved in our house. Plus we haven't even lost any pieces, thanks to the fact that the folding, plastic gameboard is also a storage case.

You'll definitely want to check out Hank's website where you can order products, meet the characters, play games, and listen to CD excerpts. You can also read more Hank reviews at the TOS Crew blog.

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  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that comes out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson

  2. We LOVE to listen to Hank stories. We've never actually read one of the books, but those books on cd have seen us through many a road trip. I can't imagine a road trip without one, actually. Chris and I enjoy them as much as the kids. There is quite a bit of humor that kids wouldn't even get. I remember one story that mentioned the mail man that drove an old truck and muttered "something about a 'sunny bridge'" every time Hank tried to bite his tire. Now, the kids would never EVER even notice that sentence was in there, let alone guess that it was a joke about the dog being cussed by a postman, but Chris and I were able to laugh.

    If you buy one, we recommend the Raccoon story....can't remember the name of it, and there are two. Both are good, but the first is the best.

  3. I've never read one, but we've listened to a half dozen. They are hilarious! I love that the author reads them, because he gets the tone exactly right, and all the personalities of the characters shine through. We love Hank!



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