HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Runt
Author: Rick Boyer
Publisher: The Learning Parent, 1997
Related website: www.thelearningparent.com
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Grades 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Boyer, Rick. The Runt (published in 1997 by The Learning Parent, 2430 Sunnymeade Road, Rustburg, VA 24588). In the early 1900s, thirteen-year-old “Kit Carson” Hunt lives near Cassville in Barry County, MO, with his father, who is the county sheriff, and mother. His real name is Carson, after his father’s deputy Bud Carson, but everyone just started calling him “Kit Carson,” and the name stuck. His best friend is Simmer (real name George) Downs. Kit is small for his age, and that discourages him, but his two major dreams are to be a big man and to raise a champion coonhound, both just like his dad. One day, a police officer comes from Springfield over to Barry County with a bloodhound to chase an escaped convict. The bloodhound ends up mating with Sheriff Hunt’s coonhound. When the litter is born, all the mixed-blood pups are taken except the runt, which becomes the property of the disappointed Kit.
Kit and Simmer decide to see if they can train Runt to be a coondog anyway, and they meet with some success�until the dog accidentally tangles with a big boar coon and nearly gets killed. After that, he shies away from coonskins. So, because he’s part bloodhound, the boys try to train him to be a “man dog.” They have visions of capturing notorious criminals and winning big rewards so that they can buy themselves a couple of new Winchester rifles and two horses like Bud Carson’s, with the dream of going west and fighting Indians when they grow up. But the first time Runt has a chance to use his newly learned skills, it’s to find Rosebud, Deacon Harlow’s little daughter Rose Marie, who always asks Kit if he will be her “beau.” Will the dog be able to track and locate Rosebud? Or will he prove to be an embarrassment to himself and the boys before the whole community?
“Uncle Rick” Boyer is a well-known name in the homeschooling community. He and his wife Marilyn, authors of Home Educating with Confidence, are the homeschooling parents of fourteen children and frequent homeschool conference speakers. Rick has honed his storytelling skills over the years by entertaining his children and his eight grandchildren. He has served as a deputy sheriff and a prison bloodhound handler. The Runt, his first novel, is a down-to-earth, home-spun type of story that both is fun to read and also exemplifies godly characteristics. Even though Kit is tired of being the smallest boy around, God is able to use an unpromising, mongrel pup to teach him what it really means to be a winner. Honesty and integrity, along with faith in God, are emphasized throughout. In addition, Kit’s mama believes that she can teach him everything that he needs at home, so she doesn’t send him to school. We did this book as a bed-time read aloud, and everyone agreed that it is great. Boyer is also the author of The Socialization Trap, Hands-on Character Building, and Yes, They’re All Ours.