I think the nine-year-old boy and the six-year-old girl crying themselves to sleep right now over the fate of Old Dan and Little Ann would agree with the distinguished gentleman from the Times.

But that childhood rite of passage is complete. I hadn’t read Where The Red Fern Grows since I was nine years old. I was sitting on the school bus one afternoon when I reached the end, and cried my eyes out in front of everybody. Tonight I had to keep myself from looking up from the page at my kids as I read tonight’s conclusion, or I would have burst into tears myself. What a beautiful, beautiful book that is.