Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Heroes and Hounds, by Bill Miller

Heroes and Hounds, by Bill Miller

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (November 10, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1456310364
  • Rating: (1 to 5 *): ****

Book Review: Heroes and Hounds

Eleven-year-old Carly dreams of riding to the hounds some day, but in the mean time she must content herself to wander hill and dale atop her pony, Monroe. Hampton is a yearling hound on his first hunt who becomes hopelessly lost. Their paths cross when the master of the hunt stops by Carly's house and tells her Hampton is missing. Carly is determined to find the missing hound, but first she has several interesting encounters with Strange Willie, a hermit who lives in the woods. When her best friend, Freddie, goes missing, Carly gets her chance to be a hero...but does she want the title?

Bill Miller, author of Heroes and Hounds, clearly has a history with horses, fox hunting, and even kids who love animals, because he got those elements so very right. Our heroine is a little girl who loves every animal, wild or tame, and doesn't want to see harm come to any of them--even the thieving fox. She is also caught up in the romance and glory of the fox hunt and imagines herself flying through the fields in a red coat, chasing the hounds, when she is really trotting down a wooded trail on her pony. How many times did I have similar dreams as a child? I couldn't count them. As an adult reader, Mr. Miller's book certainly reminded me of those times, and I could see a lot of appeal in the book for the younger readers it is intended for.  The book contains numerous beautifully drawn illustrations by Mary Burkhardt.

Miller's story is engaging and full of adventure, with a few little life lessons thrown in for good measure--which I always appreciate in a children's book--kindness to animals and strangers, not rushing to judge based on appearances, helping those in need. It also touches on the plight of children of military families.  As an editor, I would like to see the writing developed--some bits are rushed, and the omniscient point of view leaves out some opportunities to really get inside the characters' heads or to build suspense. However, it is a fun story and an engaging read that I think many kids will enjoy, especially if they are animal lovers.

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