What a marvelous read! I began Smokey by reading a chapter a night before going to bed, but it wasn’t long before I couldn’t put it down. It was an honest, touching story that told us not just about a brave and loyal dog but about the boy who loved him.

The way you put the book together around specific incidents, your use of dialogue, your descriptions of the ranches, your humor—all work so well together.

Your use of dialogue is especially good and helps create the characters of your brothers, mother, and father—characters we are delighted to know better. Your parents are especially admirable, as only parents of a young boy can be.

Your descriptions of the natural world are very specific with the names of vegetation and wildlife. Not only did we get a sense of the variety out there on the ranch, along the rivers, and in the wooded areas, but we also heard the sounds of the birds and animals. You are also good at recreating the fear that nature can throw at us, as in the case of the crazed Brahma cow, for example. Smokey outdid himself on that one—no fear for him—just as he did when the coyotes went after the stranded sheep.

Your camping trip was a fitting high point of the book and one from which I learned even more about life in the Rockies. The story of Jimmy’s pants in that incident is delightful.

Thank you for a charming story, a nostalgic trip, and an opportunity to share your boyhood adventures.



Joyce, retired UNC Professor