Hank the Cowdog
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Hank the Cowdog

John R. Erickson
West Texas author John Erickson is a man who knows of what he writes. His HANK THE COWDOG books, set on a sprawling ranch and inhabited by a crew of motley cowboys and critters, are based on many years of his own experiences.

Erickson was born and raised in West Texas, attended the University of Texas and then spent two years at the Harvard Divinity School in Massachusetts. When he returned to his home state in the late 1960's, he began publishing short stories while working full-time as a cowboy, farmer, and ranch manager. Hank and his sidekick Drover, the bumbling pooches who star in Erickson's best-selling series, were actual dogs Erickson worked with. His skillful mixing of true-life experience, out-and-out silliness, and adventure has gained Hank a faithful following of children and adults alike.

The HANK THE COWDOG saga began in 1982. Erickson, tired of ranching and receiving rejection slips for his writing, borrowed $2000 to start his own publishing company, Maverick Books. It was a daring move—he and his wife had two children, and were expecting a third. Going with his intuition, Erickson included two Hank stories in his first book, THE DEVIL IN TEXAS. He set to work selling his book at cattle auctions, rodeos, and state fairs, working right from the back of his pickup truck.

Soon, "Dear Hank," letters started pouring in, and Erickson knew he was on to something. In 1983, he printed 2000 copies of THE ORIGINAL ADVENTURES OF HANK THE COWDOG. They sold out in six weeks! An audiotape followed, and soon Erickson was combining his storytelling skills with his talent for singing and songwriting. Hank and his creator quickly became a Texas phenomenon.

Today, with more than 30 Hank books in print, John Erickson runs his own ranch in Perryton, Texas, with his wife and three children. He travels to schools, libraries, and bookstores all over the country with his books and banjo, spreading the message that reading is as fun as it is important.

HANK THE COWDOG® is a registered trademark of John R. Erickson
© John R. Erickson; Illustrations by Gerald L. Holmes
©Puffin Books & Viking Children's Books, divisions of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers