Books for Boys (of all ages)

If you search the Internet, you will find hundreds of testimonials from men who were introduced to the world of books by their fascination with the young-adult novels of Jim Kjelgaard. Even though his books were written in the 1940's and 1950's, the universal themes are as fresh today as they were then. Most of his novels told the story of a special bond between a man or boy and his dog.

Jim Kjelgaard was also a prolific author of Western short stories, for which he won several awards. He was a regular contributor to Boys' Life magazine and his short stories appeared frequently in newspapers and magazines.

While most of us remember him as an author of books for boys, many of his writings will still appeal to boys of all ages. Through this website, we hope to help you relive the joys of reading Jim Kjelgaard's novels, bring you short stories that you've never seen before and also introduce a new generation to the suspense and excitement that Jim injected into everything he wrote.

Free Story #1

Strike it Rich by Jim Kjelgaard

This is a story about a man and his wife, and of how they, in their respective ways, made sure that their son would become a man.

For thirty years John Bascomb, the husband and father, was a prospector in America's Southwest. He didn't have to be a prospector; there were plenty of job opportunities in the Southwest, John Bascomb was a prospector because he could not be anything else. It was not in him to accept a menial job and work for years until he either achieved a position of responsibility or saved enough to start his own business. John Bascomb always had to see the silver star. There was no sense in playing for ten peanuts when, with a little luck, he might own the whole peanut ranch.

There is plenty of precedent for his desires and ambitions. The Southwest has yielded untold riches, and there are more waiting to be discovered. Furthermore, some of the wealth already uncovered has been found in unique fashions. A prospector threw a rock at an errant burro and, when he went to fetch it, found one of the richest mines of all time. Another prospector, wishing to fashion a front sight for his rifle, hammered a piece of quartz loose and found another rich mine.

The Southwest is brimming over with such tales, and John Bascomb believed them.

(Read the rest of this free story)

Big Red - The Book

(1) Jim Kjelgaard's book, Big Red, won the principal medal in the junior book awards of the Boys' Clubs of America. A seasoned outdoorsman who was born (oddly) in New York City, Mr. Kjelgaard currently resides in Milwaukee.

(2) Big Red was a champion Irish setter; Danny a young trapper who knew more about the ways of varmints and hounds than of the world of fancy kennels and dog shows. But Red's owner knew a good dog man when he saw one, and entrusted Red to Danny's training.
From the moment Danny sees the beautiful Irish setter, he knows Red is the dog for him. Fast and smart, strong and noble, Red is the only dog Danny wants by his side. Soon, neither boy nor dog can stand to be apart. Together Danny and Red face many dangers in the harsh Wintapi wilderness that they call home. But the greatest test of their courage and friendship will come from an enemy more cunning than any they've known before--a bear who is the undisputed king of the wilderness, a savage killer called Old Majesty.

(3) James Haggin, a wealthy sportsman, spots Red winning the Montreal Kennel Club show and instantly pops $5,000 for him. Haggin sees Red as a ticket to international celebrity by winning the prestigious Westminster (N.Y.) Kennel Club best of show with the setter and then using him at stud to sire a dynasty of winning show dogs. There's one small problem, Haggin has about as much feel for animals as he does the inner workings of his own heart. That is, virtually nil.

If you've read the synopsis of both the book and the movie, you'll notice they had absolutely nothing in common other than the title. Walt Disney wanted a story about a boy and a dog and Jim Kjelgaard had a series of wildly successful novels on the subject. So, Disney used the widely recognized title "Big Red" and said the movie was based on "the novels of Jim Kjelgaard."

Free Story #2

Midnight by Jim Kjelgaard

The greatest bucking bronc of them all was in his stall, waiting for the man whose life dream was to break him. But a man can change his mind—and dream—in five seconds.

I loved that horse, worshiped every black hair on his shining untamable body. Nobody except Clay Allison, the greatest bronc man who ever rode a pitching horse, had sat on his back for more than five seconds. And I think I loved that black horse, Midnight, almost as much as I did Clay Allison.

I was fifteen, a full-fledged rider on the J-Bar, when I met Clay Allison. I can't explain it, but Clay had something that the rest of us lacked. One day I watched him when he picked out a jug-headed roan, saddled it, and rode it around the breaking corral. Any of us could have ridden that roan, but nobody could have ridden it exactly as Clay did. He was part of the horse, music in motion. When the roan gave up Clay slid off the saddle and walked away, thinking no more about it than if he's just rode in on a pony from the county fair.

"How do you do it?" I gasped.

"I don't know," he said. "I can't tell you how to do it. I guess bronc riding's like everything else—you've either got it or you haven't. And, if you've got it, you might have it all the time or part of the time. I really don't know. But I'm going down to Cheyenne to ride in the rodeo; I can take you along If you want to go." (Read the rest of this free story)

Big Red - The Movie

[a 1954 news clipping]Canadian-born actor, Walter Pidgeon, stars in Big Red, a two-part drama of a lonely man, an orphan and a champion Irish setter who leads them into perilous adventure, on Walt Disney Presents over the CTV television network Sundays, Dec. 6 and 13 (6.30 to 7.30 p.m.)

In the first episode, Dec. 6, a 14-year-old French-Canadian orphan, René Dumont (Gilles Payant), fills the void left by the wartime death of a wealthy sportsman James Haggin's (Pidgeon) son, and is assigned to exercise Haggin's champion dog, Red. The boy finds a home to love and a dog to cherish. Red is pampered by Therese (Janette Bertrand), the housekeeper, and befriended by her husband, Emile (Emile Genest), Red's trainer.

When Haggin separates the boy and the dog, so that Red can be entered in a Montreal dog show, Red rebels and hurls himself through a window, trying to get to the boy. Red is so severely cut that Haggin orders him destroyed--but René runs away with the dog.

Big Red was directed by Norman Tokar and written by Louis Pelletier, from the novels of Jim Kjelgaard.

[Another preview] In the realm of win, place or show movies made by Walt Disney, "Big Red," is pure show-a show youngsters are sure to enjoy, This appealing boy-dog story was inspired by the novels of the late Jim Kjelgaard, a former Milwaukeean. Big Red, of the title, is a beautiful, silky Irish setter that would rather be a hunting dog than a show dog, much to the chagrin of its owner, sportsman Walter Pidgeon. The dog is the charge of an orphaned kennel boy, played by a Canadian newcomer, Gilles Payant. The lad has difficulty speaking English when he gets excited, so he frequently resorts to French. This, however, does not prevent youngsters from readily understanding the bond of affection that springs up between the boy and the dog. Filmed in picturesque Quebec, the movie combines humor and sentiment with some real excitement.