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Irish Red

post written by Emma Filbrun

Irish Red by Jim KjelgaardTitle: Irish Red
Author: Jim Kjelgaard
Series: Big Red Series
Major Themes: Dogs, Survival, Wilderness
Synopsis: Ross and Danny move into the wilderness to live; when the outlaw puppy Mike joins them, will they be able to teach him anything?

When I was young, maybe from about 8 years old to somewhere around 12, I mainly looked for animal stories at the library. I remember reading all that I could find by Jim Kjelgaard, including Irish Red. I hadn’t read this book since then, though, and pretty well forgot the story. Recently I found a used copy, and since my boys enjoyed Big Red, decided to get it. We read it aloud together over the past couple of weeks, for oral reading practice.

As the story begins, Danny and his father Ross are still living in their squatter’s cabin at the edge of the wilderness in the Wintapi region. They are caring for Mr. Haggin’s Irish Setters, Sheilah and her five puppies, whose father is Danny’s dog Red. Four of the puppies are well-behaved and look like they have the potential to become champions, but Mike…he’s an outlaw. What will they do with him?

Mr. Haggin goes on an extended trip to Europe, leaving his nephew in charge of the great Wintapi Estate. Danny and Ross are to work with the trainer that has been hired for the dogs…English Setters which have just been acquired. When they have a disagreement with the trainer and the nephew, Danny and Ross quit their job and head off into the wilderness with Red. Then, outlaw Mike escapes his kennel and heads into the wilderness as well. Ross believes he’ll become a champion hunter, but Danny has given up on the puppy. Will Ross’s faith in Mike ever be vindicated?

This is a great story for any dog lover, and also for anyone who enjoys reading about life in the wilderness.

WARNING: Chapter 2, page 32 has darn, Chapter 3, page 37, 38 and 42, and chapter 5, page 59 use gosh, Chapter 4, page 47 has Damn, chapter 5 page 60 uses gee, chapter 8, page 96 uses cuss and darn, page 101 has gosh and darn, page 103 has darndest.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15


Links to buy Irish Red:

Amazon: PaperbackHardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback | Hardcover


Dogs, Survival, Wilderness

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