Hank the Cowdog book.

    What mess will Hank the Cowdog get himself into in this book and how in the world will he get away safely? Those were the questions I would ask as I opened a new Hank the Cowdog book as a grade schooler. The self-proclaimed Head of Ranch Security, Hank the Cowdog never failed to keep my attention as he investigated numerous cases of missing animals, angry bulls, his ongoing battle with cats and anything else that came to his attention on his Texas Panhandle ranch. My family even had a cow dog named Hank, partly because of the book series—our dog shared many personality quirks with the character in the books.

    Gerald Holmes, who illustrated and brought Hank and his gang to life for all of us to enjoy, passed away Oct. 2, 2019. The news saddened me but also reminded me of how much I loved tuning in to Hank’s adventures and delighted in Holmes’ drawings of Hank, which made his life events and sayings even more comical. Holmes’ illustrations were 50% of the charm and humor depicted in the stories written by John R. Erickson.

     The books are incredibly entertaining, hysterical and give kids and families a glimpse into life on the ranch with a somewhat incompetent dog in charge. I remember waiting on other kids to return Hank the Cowdog books to the library and checking back with the librarian daily to see if the book I was waiting on was available. I even remember staying up all night to finish one of the volumes to make sure Hank escaped.

     Some of my favorites included Hank the Cowdog and the Curse of the Incredible Priceless Corncob, Hank the Cowdog Faded Love, Hank the Cowdog and the Case of the Haystack Kitties and Hank the Cowdog and the Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse.

     Although Holmes has drawn his last illustration of our beloved Hank the Cowdog, the many pieces of artwork he created for past volumes will be treasured by past reader and future fans of the series. If you are looking for a fantastic set of books to read to your kids, I highly encourage you to start reading them some of Hank’s adventures.

     Hank himself said it best, “When I’m alone, I’m in the company of the most interesting dog I know.”

     Lacey Newlin can be reached at lnewlin@hpj.com.

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