BOOK REVIEWS

Alfred Ollivant's Bob, Son of Battle: The Last Gray Dog of Kenmuir (New York Review Children's Collection) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-31 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 3 user ratings
ISBN:1590177290
LANGUAGE:English

" Bastardised version of brilliant original.Avoid. " said.

" I absolutely loved this book! It was my first time reading it and it and it definitely captured my heart. I only wish now that I had read it aloud to my children while they were all still at home! " said.

"I can't imagine this book being published by anyone but NYRB. Thinking as a bookseller, this is one of those books that might struggle to find the right reader. It's not obvious to me that a lot of middle grade readers will eagerly pick up a book about shepherds and sheep dogs in 19th century England. And although the prose is clean and elegant (thanks to Lydia Davis's modernization), this book is closer to Hardy than to any of the middle grade I've seen come out in the last five (or thirty) years. Having said that, I'm comparing it to Thomas Hardy. The characters here are complex and interesting, and often frustrating in a way that makes them seem very real. I found the book gripping and beautiful, although harsh. So, if you're looking for an exceptional dog book for kids who are up for some textual (and moral) complexity, look no further. " said.

"I loved the original version when I was growing up, and I think it heavily influenced my later interest in herding breeds. Reading it now, though, I don't know what to think of it. On the one hand, it's stuffed with inaccuracies about dog interactions, reflects the sexist attitudes of its time, portrays the cavalier attitudes toward child abuse of its time, and the melodrama is through the roof. On the other hand, it still captures the reader, captures a lot of truth about the dog/human relationship, shows dogs in a working capacity which most of us don't get to see these days, and has a couple of scenes that will absolutely make you cry sloppily if you have any human feeling at all. Oh, and as for this being an update, Lydia Davis has done a FABULOUS job with it. She gets my full respect for all time.

Full confused and rambling review at: http://storytimehooligans.wordpress.c...
" said.

"This amazing story is one not to be missed. First published in 1898 it went on to become a classic in both the UK and the US. It is a story of good and evil and how good prevails. Two sheepdogs, totally different in looks, temperament, and purpose, vie for the Shepherd's trophy admids an ongoing feud from their owners where jealousy, hatred and covetous reign.

The storyteller extraordinare weaves a love-story, a heart-breaking and tragic relational story between a father and son, and a mysterious sub-plot to uncover the identity of the Black Killer who roams around at night viciously killing off the local sheep. The magnificent twists and turns will have you up late at night trying to figure out who the culprit is and why he is so elusive and cannot be apprehended. You are kept in suspense right up until the end as Ollivant shows his brilliance as a master storyteller over and over again throughout, luring you on deeper into the plot to find out the answers you are seeking.

Thanks to Lydia Davis and the New York Review Children's Collection for re-introducing this book into the public domain once again for future generations to enjoy. I myself had not read the book as child (or adult) so I was very fortunate to have had a chance to read one of the best books that I have read in a long, long time. I highly recommend it.
" said.

"I'm not sure if I read this as a child or not but I'm reasonably sure I've seen one of the movie adaptations. Much of the book seemed familiar but more as if I'd watched it, not read it. For many years, this was a classic children's book but it's seen less use in recent years, at least here in the US. I suspect the setting and dialogue have a lot to do with that. Set in England's sheep country in the early 1900's, the accent and dialogue are thick in the original and it uses a lot of words no longer used. Davis took the original, 'translated' the dialogue into a more understandable one that still seems to ring true and also cleaned up some of Ollivant's vocabulary. This edition is far more accessible while staying true to the original.

The original:

"I've tholed mair fra him, wullie, than Adam M'adam ever thocht from ony man."


This version:

"I have endured more from him, wullie, than Adam Mcadam ever thought he would have to endure from any man."


The first is understandable, with some effort, while the latter is much easier.

Several times as I was reading, I had to remind myself that this was not based on a true story but a work of fiction. Yes, it felt that real. :) Ollivant and Davis refrain, for the most part, from anthropomorphizing the dogs, which contributed to the realistic feel. The story sucked me in from the first page and kept me reading. I didn't remember enough to know how it turned and I needed to know.

The story has an omniscient third person narrator but we also spend time in Adam McAdam's head; interestingly, we spend little time in the head of James Moore, the other main character. James is a decent human being, flawed but essentially good. Adam McAdam has some brief moments of kindness and decency but he's proud, hard, jealous, insecure, and has a vicious mean streak. One thing I didn't like, and in this the book is a reflection of its time, is the casual attitude towards child abuse. Just a heads up if that's a trigger for you. The story is as much, if not more, about the humans who own the dogs as it is the dogs themselves.

Maybe it's because we spend a fair amount of time in Adam's head, but I found his character was better developed than any of the others in the book. A nasty man, he has the occasional moment where I actually liked him or empathized with him. And then he'd be an a**hole again. I did root for his son David, who could also be a real dick wad but was basically a good person, and for James Moore, Bob's owner. The story occurs over about seven or eight years and we get a bird's eye of the rivalry between James and Adam and between Bob and Red Wull. The rivalry and hate are only exacerbated by a Romeo and Juliet-type romance and the deaths of many sheep by an unknown dog. Is the sheep killer Bob? Is it Red Wull? Another dog entirely? Everyone has an opinion and few are shy about vocalizing theirs.

"Bob, Son of Battle" is a thrilling, emotional, powerful story of love, hate, rivalry, and life in the Dales of England in the early 1900s. At times unsettling, it provides a peak at farming and oh, what a hard life that is! You can ignore that if you like and focus on the rivalry between the dogs or the one between the people or on the romance. There's something for everyone. I'd recommend this for ages 10 or so on up.
" said.

" Bastardised version of brilliant original.Avoid. " said.

" I absolutely loved this book! It was my first time reading it and it and it definitely captured my heart. I only wish now that I had read it aloud to my children while they were all still at home! " said.

June 2018 New Book:

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