This is a honey of a book, and has so much that most books this year lack that people will welcome it jubilantly, yes even those to whom the lure of the wilderness, the feel for folk ways, is not ordinarily a factor in reading pleasure. It's a story that might easily have slopped over into sentimentality, but that manages to stay safely on the side of realism, a first rate boy story, with the hound-pup angle a somewhat tenuous thread that ties together a rather intricate pattern of adventure and folk tale. Two, things Cotton- aged twelve- wanted above all else,- a hound-pup and a chance to prowl the woods like "Blackie". That Blackie had no visible means of support, other than the gift for telling tall tales and for arriving at the psychological moment for a good meal, bothered Cotton not at all, and his heaven spilled over when Blackie invited him to go along on a coon-hunting trip. His Ma was a hurdle to take, but Pa managed it, and off Cotton goes, with his pal Spud, and Blackie and the mare. And they have their fill- and more- of adventure- and beauty -- yes and romance too. For Blackie is lured by a girl's eyes, and they find themselves by chance at Fiddling Tom's house, where Blackie and Dony spark a bit. For Cotton the black pup that will have none of anyone is the high spot of the stopover, when the pup timorously chooses Cotton as his man -- trails him ten miles when they leave- and, before the story ends, wins Cotton's mother to agreement. The book is rooted deep in folk ways. The Shivaree at the Wilsons', celebrating Dave's accident, is a superb bit of dramatization, right out of Lomax and Richard Chase, and perhaps most closely, Shaw, authority on cowboy dances. Comparison to The Yearling -- to The Voice of Bugle Ann -- to other boy and dog stories- is inevitable. Actually, Hound-Dog-Man is in a class by itself.