Nov 30, Jessaka rated it really liked it An Animal Story with a Happy Ending I read this when I was a child and wanted to see if I still enjoyed it in the same way. I didnt, but still, it was an adventure story, and I couldnt put it down. It was about a young 18 year old man and his dog Big Red, not really his dog in the beginning because Big Red was owned by his dads landlord. One day when Danny was walking over to his landlords house Big Red saw him and ran over to him. They immediately bonded. After Danny went home, Big Red followed, not at that moment, but when he woke up the next morning, Big Red was at his doorstep.

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I read this book many times while growing up, and I enjoyed it. But reading it again this year, I realized just how much rugged goodness I had taken for granted.

They squatted there years before the vast acreage was bought up by Mr. Haggin, and they live there still under an agreement in which Mr. Haggin allows them free run of the forest, requiring only that they leave the most valuable timber uncut.

But as a woodsman, he supports himself without needing anything he cannot earn from the wilderness. Hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging, and husbandry are his daily life, and he has passed these skills on to Danny. The two of them live in a harmonic interdependence—each determinedly self-reliant, seeking to be the giver rather than the recipient, yet easily accepting from one another the services they cannot perform for themselves.

I love the way Kjelgaard makes plain the love between father in son, and that they are both aware of this love, without either of them needing to say it aloud. The Dog An Irish Setter might seem like a strange companion for a deep-woods trapper, because it is.

Setters are show dogs and bird-hunting dogs; trappers are best served by hounds. But Red Mr. The Bear Old Majesty is an enormous, almost-mythical specimen of a black bear. He fills the role of Monster In The Dark, an impossible dragon for the hero to slay. He is an early influence drawing Danny, Red, and Mr. Haggin together. Most of all, Old Majesty embodies the untamed, destructive, yet untainted power of the wilderness where Danny lives. The seasons change several times over the course of this story, and Kjelgaard allows us to see, hear, smell, and taste a forest very like the one where I grew up.

It is clear that he lived in, and loved, a place nearby; he describes flora and fauna, hill and stream, with the insight of a practical naturalist. As I read Big Red this time, it was pleasant to see how the author used the steady steps of the men, the dog, and the bear as stitches that sew together the changing moods of his wilderness setting.


Books by Jim Kjelgaard

Kjelgaard, was a physician, happily married with five sons and one daughter. Kjelgaard was the fourth oldest. Kjelgaard and his siblings lived on a seven hundred and fifty acre farm in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania during his childhood. It was the outdoors which provided a playground for all the children. Dave Drakula, writing in Jim Kjelgaard — From the Bigwoods to Hollywood, recounted a time when Kjelgaard and his brother Henry were outside playing when Kjelgaard spotted a bear. Kjelgaard and Henry climbed up the apple tree to escape the bear.


Big Red, by Jim Kjelgaard


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