Age: Middle Grade (third-fifth graders)
What is a “bulldogger,” you ask? Lucky for those uninitiated into the world of rodeos, author Barbara Hay explains the term early in this first book of the “The Bulldoggers Club” series. The club featured in the book is a set of young boys named Dru, Bo, Cecil, and Scotty who want nothing more than to compete in bulldogging at the rodeo. Since they aren’t allowed yet due to their age, they focus on the calf-roping event. However, the rodeo aspect of this story is hardly present. The main narrative follows the boys as they catch a record-setting catfish somewhere they shouldn’t have been fishing in the first place (private land owned by an older woman they call a witch). The boys struggle with hiding the truth about where the fish came from while also dealing with bullies and trying to fit in time to practice roping. In the end, the story shows the boys’ emotional growth and the strengthening of their friendship, both important topics to the intended audience of elementary-aged children. Though the characters were likeable, I found myself a little bored by the story. Then again, I am not a young boy.
There was just not a lot moving the narrative forward. In other words, it’s not a page-turner. But if you are looking for a wholesome story about country boys, fishing, and rodeos, then you could give this one a try.
Technical Note: I read this as a preview copy on my Nook e-reader and the illustrations kept freezing up the system. I wouldn’t recommend reading it on a Nook.
Hay, Barbara. The Bulldoggers Club: The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The RoadRunner Press, 2012.
The Bulldoggers Club on BarnesandNoble.com