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Big Red

post written by Emma Filbrun

Big Red, by Jim KjelgaardTitle: Big Red
Author: Jim Kjelgaard
Major Themes: Dogs, Wilderness, Hunting, Trapping
Synopsis: Danny discovers the love of his life—a great dog, and teaches him to survive in the wilderness.

This is one of my childhood favorites—I was thrilled to get to enjoy it again, with my boys. Big Red is a classic story of a boy and a dog, in the wilderness.

The story opens with Danny finding Old Majesty, the enormous outlaw bear, standing over a bull he has just killed. When Danny goes to tell the bull’s owner, he sees a beautiful Irish setter there—the kind of dog he has never even dreamed of! Somehow, Danny is made caretaker of Red, and teaches him about life in the wilderness while he, in turn, learns about show dogs. He spends a lot of time teaching Red to hunt partridges—and only partridges. What happens, however, when Old Majesty comes back in the spring, out to kill anything he can?

Each chapter could almost stand alone in this book, although they do tell a continuous story and present a number of conflicts that are all resolved in the end. Big Red is a wonderful book for any boy who loves the outdoors and dogs—or any girl, for that matter. I loved it when I was about ten!

WARNING: There are words here and there throughout the story that we as a family don’t use.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15


Links to buy Big Red:




Keywords: Dogs, Bears, Wilderness Life, Hunting, Trapping

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