“This book sounds like four parts awesome and nine parts batsh*t crazy.” – Wulfgar
Yes. Yes it is.
Sometimes I find books on discount that appear to have been published in another, alternate universe. Snark Bait is this website’s steak and potatoes and I do believe I have found a winner in the form of the thrilling six-volume saga (of which I actually found two books) of that lovable scamp, Barney the Bear Killer the Big Brave Dog.
It is a children’s series written and, evidently, self-published by a motherly-looking woman. Seems that when the author was a little girl, her life was saved by a brave hound while they were on a hunting trip. She is… a little vague about the details (I’m not here to call her story into question or anything but…) Where most of us would be traumatized by such an experience, she has written a planned twelve-book series. They are each labeled as a “character building book” (oh boy!) If you try to tell me you can resist this cover blurb, in light of the background information and that label, you are a damn liar:
“The panther’s back claws could rip out his guts…”
Now we’ve already discussed this a bit on my Cranky 2.0 Super-Blog! It bears repeating here. You find a book like this and you ask yourself, “why the hell am I too anxious to write and send my book ideas to be published?”
And these books ARE terrible – but… they are AWESOMELY terrible. They are set on Farmer John’s farm in the wilds of Arkansas where every animal ever is out to kill him and his family. And the only thing standing between the farm and the animals is Barney, who is more badass than Chuck Norris and Rex the Wonder Dog combined.
The Best Parts:
Book 2: The Black Panther
In which Barney fights off a ring of dognappers and finds his way back to the farm after being lost in another state. Oh, and he fights a panther too.
Page vii -You know, Forwards aren’t normally used to explain everything that is about to happen in the novel.
Page 2 – Woah, we are right in the action already!
Page 22 – Farmer John talks about his life. For twelve pages.
Page 30 – Damn, that’s depressing.
Page 33 – “Team Rocket blasts off at the speed of light!”
Page 37 – So is every chapter going to begin by dropping us right in the middle of an action scene?
Page 39 – I am assuming the fact that Barney killed a Grizzly Bear happened in an earlier book. Just a hunch. Also, did you know Grizzly Bears lived anywhere near Arkansas? Well, they do. DON’T QUESTION IT!!!
Page 51 – Oh the DRAMA!!!
Page 52 – So, wait, what happened to “Old Barney”?
Page 59 – Oh, it is on.
Page 61 – So this buckshot will tear the head off a Grizzly Bear (don’t question it) but Barney is only mildly wounded?
Page 65 – Thank goodness the opening to this chapter isn’t so dramatic
Page 67 – That didn’t last long.
Page 75 – Farmer John is SO angry at the dognappers for abducting Barney that he is going to… stand there and rant about stealing.
Page 95 – Say, in all this drama-rama about dog-abductors and panthers and guys who beat kidnapped animals with metal-tipped whips, when do we get to the advertised “character building” part?
Page 100 – Oh, and did I mention Farmer John’s wife is pregnant?
Page 102 – Epic Chase Scene!
Page 105 – Tranquilizer *bullets*?!
Page 119 – Barney, because he is so badass, survived his ordeal with the dog abductors and the guy with the whip. He escaped from them and ran across two states, all the way home in a blinding blizzard (which they do have in Arkansas; I did the research), with a badly injured leg and after having recently been shot in the face. And now the panther promised in the title jumps him. This book packs a hell of a lot of drama in 137 pages.
Book 6: The Cheetah
Very, very loosely based on the true story of a Cheetah who escaped from a circus (huh?) It is MOSTLY based on some kid writing in and saying that it would be awesome if Barney fought a Cheetah. I am tempted to write and ask if Barney could fight a Gazebo.
Page 5 – Farmer John’s wife Molly has not yet given birth and yet Barney has become a father. Either the previous books have all taken place within one year or…
Page 22 – Also, in that (apparently) one year Barney fought a Jaguar. Did you know that Jaguars live anywhere near Arkansas?
Page 28 – Molly Weasley?
Page 33 – The reason I brought up the Gazebo thing is due to the best aspect of this book: I don’t think the author did much research about Cheetahs. Call it a hunch.
Page 37 – “And I bet it has acid-laced claws and laser eyes and a built-in jetpack!”
Page 43 – Right. I’m very, very sorry but if you somehow were totally unaware of Cheetahs and happened to meet one, would you assume this skinny feline was capable of eating two cows in one day or tearing down a farmhouse door?
Page 52 – Who’s Brutus?
Page 63 – If the author thinks we understand what the hell just happened to Ashley, she is sadly mistaken.
Page 67 – You know, somehow, “Oh, don’t go into the woods the CHEETAH is in there!” doesn’t quite work.
Page 71 – Who’s Marty?
Page 74 – What would a Cheetah even do in a circus? The author should have just done what she’s been doing all along: just randomly having a Cheetah wandering Arkansas and asking us not to question it.
Page 75 – I don’t do this very often, but I need to share the illustration on this page with you. I *died* seeing this. Read the dialogue and then look at the Cheetah’s face:
Page 79 – Nothing is going to stop Barney!
Page 92 – ZOMG what a twist!
Page 93 – So Molly and Ashley were just attacked by “a thing”. And the Cheetah arrived and fought the “thing” and Molly shot the “thing” in the face. So now she and Farmer John know that this “thing” is wounded and pissed off – and Molly REFUSES TO TELL ANYONE WHAT THE “THING” WAS.
I promise you I am not making anything up here. Or in any of these movies/books/whatever. I couldn’t make anything up that would be this insane.
Page 101 – “Daughter, your mother is in labor and there is a Cheetah and some other animal that is totally p*ssed at us for shooting it in the face roaming our farm. Can you go out and get our neighbor friend?”
Page 109 – Best part about that last bit? They had a phone.
Page 134 – Pages and pages of resolution for the baby who up until now was just a side-character. One sentence to tie up the Cheetah story. And, oh by the way, the animal Molly pissed off by shooting it in the face is still out there.
Classic Quotes and Excerpts: It’s a veritable smorgasbord -orgasbord -orgasbord.
“When I first wrote the stories about Barney, they were true, but when we put him on the farm with the animals, I added some fiction.” – Book 2, Page ii (Wait…)
“It’s up to the black panther whether he lives or dies!” – Book 2, Page vii
“With the taste of fresh blood in his mouth, Barney’s jaws clamped tighter and tighter. He didn’t want this woman-screamer on the farm… he would kill the panther if he had to.” – Book 2, Page 5
“He sat there staring down at Barney… his faithful Barney… his beloved Barney… his young Barney who had ended up dead like his old Barney.” – Book 2, Page 51
“Stealing is illegal! It’s against the law to steal a man’s property. And in this day and time, a good hunting dog is considered a man’s property. Why, for most men, a good hunting dog means food on the table.” – Farmer John’s rant in Book 2, Page 76
“That thing’s big, Molly! Man alive! …I bet it could eat at least two cows a day!.” – Farmer John meets the Cheetah in Book 6, Page 37
“She was carrying another baby in her tummy, and that cheetah was not about to hurt it..” – Molly goes badass in Book 6, Page 37 (Also, Cheetahs will attack a baby in the womb. Don’t question it.)
Things I Learned from this Book:
* – Arkansas is a place where everything is trying to kill you.
* – Hounds can attack in the blink of an eye.
* – Double 00 buckshot can “tear a bear’s head off”. But it will only mildly wound a hound.
* – Some people drool at the thought of having lots of money.
* – Lightning can start a rock slide.
* – “Alerted” is a verb. Don’t question it.
Things That Can Save Any Book:
Cool Creatures? Barney the Badass Bear Killer.
Creative Ideas? I… can’t say it’s NOT creative.
Memorable Character? There are about twelve named characters and I can only remember the three.
Memorable Setting? An alternate-universe Arkansas crawling with jaguars and panthers and grizzlies and cheetahs and lord knows what else.
Nifty Illustrations? Would you kindly scroll back up to that Cheetah drawing?
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when Barney vows he will “get” someone “good” or “kill” someone “dead”.
Jon fending off a gazebo with his bare gorram hands!
Barney The Bear Killer Book 2: The Black Panther and Barney the Bear Killer Book 6: The Cheetah both copyright 2004 to Pat L. Sargent. Illustrations by Jane Lenoir. Published by Ozark Publishing, Inc., Prairie Grove, AR.
ISBN #: 1-56763-965-8 (Black Panther) and 1-56763-973-9 (The Cheetah)