Hickory Doc's Tales: The Pack: First Generation
by Linda Harkey
Archway Publishing

"Doc shares a host of humorous stories as a hunting dog, and he narrates what life is like at the kennel."

In this entertaining story for elementary school students, the narrator, a dog named Doc, first impresses the reader with his eccentric pedigree. His "family tree can be traced back to a sapling in Germany." He then charms them with his leadership qualities, adventures, and misadventures in hunting and as a member of a pack of five siblings. Through their cooperation with and care for one another, the German shorthaired pointers, as their breed is called, and a Labrador retriever work together to survive various experiences. Attempted dognapping by a human named Big Bad Carl introduces the adventures. The definition of a family becomes more of an emotional rather than a strictly genealogical group, as the family includes Zeke, the Labrador, with the pointer siblings and their offspring.

In another story, Doc's son, Rush, learns a lesson in obedience and loyalty when he leaves the pack during a quail hunt to chase a porcupine. His attempted adventure includes approximately 150 quills from Pete, a porcupine who registers his disapproval of the loss of so much of his defense system with Doc. Doc and Rush—the latter feeling remorse for his day's mistakes—return to the pack to assess the damage.

All of the tales describe the dogs' diverse hunting skills and the importance of their loyalty to and harmony with Doc and the rest of the pack. The book teaches children important lessons in self-awareness, courage, leadership, and loyalty. It is structured to advance reading skills, as words and concepts are defined that may be unfamiliar to young readers. In addition to humor, the protagonists demonstrate tolerance, hard work, and love for one another. Harkey structures the lessons to demonstrate understanding, common sense, and fun.

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