HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Rin Tin Tin and Call to Danger
Author: Doris Schroeder
Illustrator: Edward Andrey
Publisher: Whitman Publishing Company, 1957
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-122
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Schroeder, Doris. Rin Tin Tin and Call to Danger (copyrighted in 1957 by Screen Gems Inc. and published by Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, WI). When I was a little boy, I remember watching an ABC television show titled “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” which ran from October, 1954, to May, 1959, starring Lee Aaker as ten year old Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers of B Company, 101st U. S. Cavalry at a Western post known as Fort Apache. Rusty and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West. However, the story of Rin Tin Tin goes further back than that. Rin Tin Tin was a real dog, a male German Shepherd rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier, Lee Duncan, who nicknamed him “Rinty.” Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for the dog. The dog was an immediate box-office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, beginning with The Man from Hell’s River in 1922, and gained worldwide fame as an international star in motion pictures.
After Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, the name was given to several related German Shepherd dogs featured in fictional stories on film, radio, and television. Rin Tin Tin, Jr., sired by Rin Tin Tin with his mother Champion Asta of Linwood, also owned by Duncan, appeared in several serialized films of the 1930s including The Adventures of Rex and Rinty (1935), but was not as talented as his father. He voiced the part of Rinty in the radio shows produced during that era, as well. Between 1930 and 1955, Rin Tin Tin was cast in three different radio series, beginning April 5, 1930, with The Wonder Dog. Rin Tin Tin III, said to be Rin Tin Tin’s grandson, but probably only distantly related, helped promote the military use of dogs during World War II and also appeared in a film with child actor Robert Blake in 1947. Duncan groomed Rin Tin Tin IV for the 1950s television series, and IV was nominally the lead dog. After Duncan died in 1960, the screen property of Rin Tin Tin passed to TV producer Herbert B. “Bert” Leonard, who worked on further adaptations such as the 1988–1993 Canadian-made TV show Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop.
Call to Danger was the first “Authorized Screen Gems television edition” of Rin Tin Tin books based on the television show. Two greedy, dishonest men, Ben Strand and Jake Childers, who work for a fur company, stir up trouble when they lose their furs through gambling and then try to cover it up by claiming that the local Apaches, who have signed a peace treaty, attacked them and stole the furs. Meanwhile, there is developing antagonism between the Apache chief’s son Chato and Rusty. Can the soldiers keep the peace? Or will the Indians go on the warpath? And what might Rusty and Rinty do to help? Rusty says “golly” a lot, one of the bad guys uses the euphemistic term “dratted,” and a soldier smokes a pipe, but the story is generally wholesome and suitable for everyone. What a blast from the past on a trip down memory lane! Another similar book is Rin Tin Tin and The Ghost Wagon Train (1958) by Cole Fannin.