Jim Kjelgaard, born in December 1910, wrote over forty books—many of which have become classics in the realm of young adult fiction. His best-known tales are the three that make up the “Big Red” series, and well exemplify his mode of writing, in which a young adult and an animal are drawn together and must work out a difficulty created by human or natural circumstances. In all of his books, whether for young or older readers, he had a gift for creating convincing protagonists—whether human or animal—and unfolding their story against the backdrop of a realistically-rendered natural world.
Though born in New York, he was still a young child when his father, a doctor, moved the family to the mountains of Pennsylvania. He had the great good fortune to grow up amid some of the best hunting and fishing in the United States. During his first year out of high school, he and a friend spent the entire winter in the wild doing just that. His later books, as a bow to changing sensibilities, show a progression from hunting with a gun to pursuing nature with a camera.
In many of his books, he added careful research to his years of outdoor experience and produced such books as The Lost Wagon, Buckskin in Parade (one his own favorites) and Rebel Siege, in which people and events of the past came to life for a steadily-growing following of readers. Though he traveled widely, and this travel is reflected in his various writings, he and his wife and daughter spent most of his later years in Wisconsin and Arizona. Mr. Kjelgaard won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best juvenile—Wolf Brother—in 1957. Jim Kjelgaard died in 1959 at the age of 48.
He is the author of Double Challenge.