I loved the story, but I had only read it as a last resort. I'd devoured all of my library books and was unable to get to the library to replace them, so I roamed my siblings' rooms in a desperate search and found Beautiful Joe on my sister's bookshelf (yes, my sister had a boy's book on her shelf! Gasp!). I read it in the absence of a proper girl's book such as Nancy Drew...desperate times calling for desperate measures and all that.
Sadly, even my love of Beautiful Joe didn't change my mind about other dog stories. I didn't even read the classic animal stories to my kids. Perhaps if I had, my son would have become a reader sooner. Recently, my YA (Young Adult) book club read Where the Red Ferns Grow, and I now see the error of my ways. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story about a boy and his dogs. It's a story about hard work, determination, delayed gratification, faith, family, and love. It's a book to treasure and to read and re-read with your children and grandchildren or simply for the pure pleasure of it.