Alfred Ollivant's Bob, Son of Battle: The Last Gray Dog of KenmuirAlfred Ollivant’s Bob, Son of Battle: The Last Gray Dog of Kenmuir by Lydia Davis

Genre: Children’s

Source: Received for an honest review from the publisher.


  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Series: New York Review Children’s Collection
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: NYR Children’s Collection (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590177290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590177297


*From Amazon*

Bob, Son of Battle, is a sheepdog so canny and careful of his flock, so deeply devoted to his master, James Moore, and so admired for his poise and wisdom by the residents of a small village in the rugged mountains of England’s North Country, that young though he is, he is already known as Owd Bob. In a recent contest, Bob has proved himself a matchless sheepdog, and if he wins the trophy two more times, he’ll be seen as equal to the legendary sheepdogs of yore.

But Bob has a real rival: Red Wull, with his docked tail and bristling yellow fur, a ferocious creature, just like his diminutive master, Adam McAdam, a lonely Scot, estranged not only from his English neighbors but from his son, David. McAdam just can’t stop belittling this strapping young man, all the more so since David began courting Moore’s beautiful daughter Maggie. But what McAdam really wants is for his beloved Wullie to wrest the prize from Bob once and for all.

The story takes a darker turn when a troubling new threat to the local flocks emerges. A dog has gone rogue, sneaking out at night to feast on the flesh and blood of the sheep he is bound to protect. Again and again, new sheep fall prey to this relentless predator; again and again, he slips away undetected. This master hunter can only be among the boldest and sharpest of dogs . . .

Bob, Son of Battle has long been a beloved classic of children’s literature both in America and in England. Here the celebrated author and translator Lydia Davis, who first read and loved this exciting story as a child, has rendered the challenging idioms of the original into fluent and graceful English of our day, making this tale of rival dogs and rival families and the shadowy terrain between Good and Bad accessible and appealing to readers of all ages.

About the Author

Alfred Ollivant (1874–1927) was born in Old Charlton, Kent, the son of a colonel in the Royal Horse Artillery. Shortly after he graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, intending to pursue a career in the army, he was thrown from his horse and seriously injured. While beginning his recuperation from the accident (he was to remain under his doctors’ care for the next fourteen years), he wrote Owd Bob: The Grey Dog of Kenmuir (known in the United States as Bob, Son of Battle), which was a best seller both in the United Kingdom and the United States when it came out in 1898. Ollivant would go on to publish fourteen more novels, as well as various occasional essays, poems, and other works, including, during the First World War, a series of articles describing wartime life in England for an American audience.

Marguerite Kirmse (1885–1954) was born in Bournesmouth, England. She emigrated to the United States as an accomplished harpist in order to continue her musical education, but instead embarked on a highly successful career as an illustrator. She is best known for her drawings of dogs, including those in Lassie, Come-Home by Eric Knight.

Lydia Davis is the author of seven collections of stories, including Break It Down, Samuel Johnson Is Indignant, and, most recently, Can’t and Won’t, as well as one novel, The End of the Story. Her Collected Stories were published as a single volume in 2009, and in 2013 she was awarded an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal for the Short Story, as well as the Man Booker International Prize. She is also the translator of many books from the French, most notably Proust’s Swann’s Way and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.



What an interesting read! An old classic brought back to life, through these pages of this new version. In this version the author has brought back to life the story of Bob, the Last Gray of Kenmuir. Bob is a sheep dog, with competition in Red Wull, a vicious dog also know as “The Tailless Tyke”. His owner is a lonely Scott, Adam McAdam, who is also a bit antagonistic. Troubles comes in the way of Sheep being slaughtered by a rogue dog. This is actually Red Wull’s tale. A dark tale to be sure, but an entertaining one. Rather, you would agree it is fit for younger readers, is really up to the readers. While, it is labeled for readers 8-12, I would highly recommend it for this age group and not any younger. Due to the strong dark, gothic style writing. However, with this said, it is a true treasure. Many authors would not have taken on the Red Wull’s story. There is much more to both the dog and the owner, than their anger,loneliness, and unhappiness. Well written! A powerful, heart-wrenching tale of a dog and his owner. Powerful but compelling!

*Received for an honest review from the publisher*

Rating: 4
Heat rating: N/A
Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More