The Dog Crusoe

by R. M. Ballantyne
350 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Entertaining read with slight troublesome morality.


Won by young Dick Varley while still a squalling pup, Crusoe little knows the importance of the training he has to endure each day. Patiently Dick trains the dog until he is fully subjected to his master's will. When the boy heads off on a mission to the Indians, Crusoe goes with him and proves himself invaluable. As they escape bloodthirsty Indians, fight deadly animals, face starvation, and try to exercise mercy through all, Dick and Crusoe remain together as the dog lovingly serves his master, saving his life many times.


Good. The main characters all have Christian morals and highly respect integrity and human life. The men do sometimes speak of the Indians in very derogatory ways, though their actual inferiority is usually put down to their lack of Christ.

Spiritual Content

Dick's mother is a devout Christian. He turns to God and the Bible for consolation and wisdom. The Indians worship idols.


Crusoe almost gets roasted alive while a puppy. Some Indians and white men get killed in fights. Dick and his friends a few times almost lose their lives from the Indians, starvation, or wild animals. They kill a lot of animals.

Drug and Alcohol Content

All of the men smoke pipes. Many characters drink alcohol, but drunkenness is shown as unwise.

Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content

When starving, Dick drinks the blood of a prairie chicken.


This book is a fun adventure story with a wonderful friendship. It is sometimes funny, sometimes profound, sometimes exciting, sometimes edifying, and always interesting. The only troublesome things are the general negative attitude towards the Indians, and the little bit of violence.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

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