Shabby Sunday: Big Red- 1945 (1980) Jim Kjelgaard – Book Review #VintageBooks #ShabbySunday #BigRed


I have a bunch of old vintage books and continue to acquire more. One of my plans when  starting this blog was to do a post every now and then sharing one of my cherished vintage books. I figured there might be other book bloggers out there with some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share.

This meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ is for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to participate as anyone can join. Feel free to use my meme image if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me in this post so that I can see the book you’re sharing.

Last time I shared:

The Big Book of Favorite Horse Stories

Today’s Shabby Share:

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard


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.

Every summer, a city near our home has a community garage sale where people donate things they no longer want. It’s a charitable sale for those less fortunate in the community. Years ago, they had boxes of old chapter books and classic stories from an elementary school. They must have pulled these books out of the basement because they were all old books that looked like they hadn’t been read in years. That’s where we found our copy of Big Red.

This paperback edition was published in 1980 by Bantam Books, but the first official publication was in 1945. This printing is 218-pages in length with twelve total chapters. Our copy has seen its better days; although, it’s still structurally sound. The pages have a slight yellow tinge. For the most part, the book is all text with only a few simple black and white illustrations every twenty pages or so.

The story follows Danny Pickett, a seventeen-year-old boy living in the Wintapi wilderness. Danny–like his father–is an avid outdoorsman. Both Danny and his father live in a cabin together and make a living off the land by hunting, trapping, fishing, and selling honey and pelts. They are poor, but they get by.

A wealthy cattleman named Mr. Haggin lives nearby, and it’s by the grace of this man that Danny and his father are permitted to live on the edge of his estate. Danny respects Mr. Haggin and does odd jobs every now and then for him. At Mr. Haggin’s house, Danny first sees the dog–an Irish Setter–silky red from head to toe. He’s struck by the dog the moment he sees him. Danny knows that he’s not like any other dog he’s ever known in his life.

Mr. Haggin’s eyes were suddenly gentle. “Do you like that dog, Danny?”
“I sort of took a fancy to him.”
“Forget him. He’d be lost in your woods, and wouldn’t be worth a whoop for any use you might
have for a dog.”

“Oh sure, sure. By the way, Mr. Haggin, what’s the money cost of a dog like that?”
Mr. Haggin mounted his horse. “I paid seven thousand dollars,” he said, and galloped away.

Over time, Danny gets to know this prize show dog he calls Red. Red isn’t just a beautiful dog; he’s intelligent, loyal, and strong. Danny wants to teach him the woods and have him as his companion hunting dog. Will Red measure up to be the quintessential dog that Danny believes him to be?

Reading this story with my kids was such a joy. Even though it’s been years since I read Big Red, this experience was like reading it for the first time. The author did a beautiful job with the storytelling. I found the descriptions lovely. You can tell that the author grew up in a similar landscape and situation to Danny.

The spring advanced. Melted snow filled every little ditch and depression, and the swollen creeks surged over their banks into the meadows and forests around them. Then green grass showed, flowers bloomed, trees were bud-laden, and one day a belated flock of north-bound geese squawked over Stoney Lonesome on their strong-winged passage north. In the shallow little gulley where he had been tearing a log apart to get the white grubs that had burrowed into it, the huge bear raised his long head to watch them go. He licked another grub from its damp bed, and climbed ponderously out of the gulley.”

Big Red is an adventurous, coming-of-age story about a young man in the wilderness with his dog, but it’s so much more than that. This story demonstrates the love between a father and son and a boy and his dog. It also raises some thought-provoking questions: Do the young have more to learn from the old or is it the other way around? In Big Red, Danny and his father–like all people–have their way of thinking. They discover new ideas from one another, and they learn to show respect for one another. I’m a dog person, and I’m a country person, but it’s the relationships in this story that pulled me in.

Why, there would be hardly anything worth while if it wasn’t for his father. That foolish quarrel over Red! Danny should have let him hunt varmints or anything else Ross wanted. If only he could talk to his father just once and tell him how sorry he was!”

Big Red is a children’s book but without a doubt, perfect for all ages. It’s undeniably a classic. If you enjoy outdoor adventure stories involving dogs, I highly recommend this book. We’ll be reading the next book Irish Red within the next few weeks.

Book Details:

  • Publisher: Bantam Books
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10-12 years
  • Pages: 218
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0-553-15106-1

Other blogs who have participated in Shabby Sunday:

Nicky@ An Introverted Bookworm

Claire@ Brizzle Lass Books

Author Didi Oviatt

Sassy Brit@ Alternative-Read

Brittany @ PerfectlyTolerable

Shari @

Jennifer @

Lisa @ Way Too Fantasy

*Please stop by these blogs to check out all of their beautiful shabby shares!*

Thanks for checking out Shabby Sunday! Have you read this book? Do you have any shabby books to share? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

♥️ Mischenko

14 thoughts on “Shabby Sunday: Big Red- 1945 (1980) Jim Kjelgaard – Book Review #VintageBooks #ShabbySunday #BigRed

        1. As popular as the book was, it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s the same with me too, and I see books that I recognize from childhood. This is one reason I keep most of my books and hope to pass them down to my kids. I guess we’ll see. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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