Memory Lane: Jim Kjelgaard–a *Great* Young Readers’ Storyteller

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Outlaw Red–see that cover? And dig the 35-cent price. This book was one of my prized possessions when I was 11 or 12 years old; and its author, Jim Kjelgaard (died 1959), was one of my very favorite storytellers.

I say “storyteller” instead of “writer” because that’s what Kjelgaard was, a pure storyteller. He immersed you in his story. You could read the book again and again, and its spell would never fade.

What kind of stories did he tell? Adventure! Discovery! A lot of stories about dogs, with the dog as the protagonist. In Outlaw Red, we follow a prize-winning Irish setter, separated from the humans who coddled him, to see if he can survive in the wilderness. His name is Sean–which, of course, I read as “Seen” and wondered why anybody would give such a funny name to a dog. There’s also a brave boy in the story.

Another major Kjelgaard favorite of mine was Fire Hunter, about the adventures of a boy in distant prehistoric times, who gets separated from his people and has to learn a lot of important survival lessons in a hurry.

Today we have Young Readers fiction about drugs, aberrant sex, superstition, self-mutilation–really, enough to make you puke. It’s what liberal loons in the publishing business think kids want to read about. The best 20 of ’em aren’t worth Jim Kjelgaard on his worst day.

Thanks to and other online book vendors, Jim’s books are again available to you, your children, and your grandchildren. Believe me when I tell you that they’re absolutely wonderful!

8 comments on “Memory Lane: Jim Kjelgaard–a *Great* Young Readers’ Storyteller

  1. It astounds me that writers think they have to demonstrate their acceptance by having characters in their books that use drugs or lead and immoral life. Yes, I know that they are people too, I’ve met plenty of them in my day. That does not mean that they are positive examples.

    In my lifetime, I’ve known several men that were serial adulterers. They cheated on their wives, sometimes openly. In every case, these were unhappy, unfulfilled people that I didn’t envy one bit.

    I’ve known more than a few drug users and I didn’t envy any off them, either. Most quit using drugs as they matured, but some persisted well into middle age. Those who persisted tended to have less than productive lives.

  2. These sound wonderful and I don’t know why I can’t recall reading them since I’ve loved reading all my life – even to the point of bringing a flashlight to bed as a youngster when I was supposed to be sleeping 🙂 My second home was the public library.

    1. Thank you, Lee. I went to look for him on Amazon and found a treasure – a 5-book compilation on kindle for $1.99. The Black Fawn, The Lost Wagon, Rescue Dog of the High Pass, Swamp Cat, and We Were There At The Oklahoma Land Run. I started reading The Black Fawn from Amazon’s ‘look inside’ pages and was hooked. (I read the first two chapters online 🙂 ) Got the kindle collection for $1.99. What a bargain!

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