JIM KJELGAARD 1910-1959
 


 
 Author's Rite 
       Wednesday 
Jim Kjelgaard 

     Graveside services for Jim 
  Kjelgaard, 49, a former Milwau- 
  keean who was e of the best 
  known writers of boys' books 
  in the United States, will be 
  held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at 
  Wisconsin Memorial Park. 
     Mr. Kjelgaard died Sunday of 
  cancer at his home in Phoenix, 
  Ariz., to which he moved four 
  years ago from the Milwaukee 
  area because of poor health. 
     A funeral service was held in 
  Phoenix Tuesday and the body 
  was sent here for burial. 
     The author, a prize winning 
  juvenile writer, was known to 
  thousands of readers for his two 
  dozen or more vivid adventure 
  stories.  Most of them had na- 
  ture themes and animal-boy 
  plots. 

      Was Thoughtful Writer 

     Mr. Kjelgaard, a thoughtful, 
  painstaking writer, began his 
  literary career with short fiction 
  and outdoor articles, chiefly for 
  the adult magazine trade.  He 
  turned to juveniles about 1940, 
  after he came to Milwaukee 
  from Galeton, Pa. 
     His interest in Milwaukee was 
  stirred through a correspond- 
  ence with an appreciative read- 
  named Eddie Dresen.  The 
  reader liked Mr. Kjelgaard's 
  magazine pieces. 
     Mr. Kjelgaard learned eventu- 
  ally that "Eddie" was a diminu- 
   tive of Edna and, in 1939, he met 
  Edna in person.  They were mar- 
  ried here shortly afterward. 
     The author, a husky and plain 
  spoken person, was an outdoors- 
  man and spent much of his lei- 
   sure hunting, trapping, and fish- 
   ing in Wisconsin.  His knowl- 
   edge and love of nature was ev- 
   dent in his writing. 

      Wrote of Father Marquette 

     One of his books, "The Explo- 
  rations of Pere Marquette," told 
   about the priest-explorer who 
   early visited the state.  He re- 
   membered many Milwaukee and 
  state friends in dedicating his 
   books. 
      Mr. Kjelgaard's first juvenile 
   work was "Forest Patrol."  It 
   appeared in 1941. Six years later 
   his book about an Irish setter, 
  called "Big Red," won the prin- 
  cipal medal in the junior book 
   awards of the Boys' Clubs of 
   America.  His books were 
  among Junior Literary Guild 
   selections. 
     His works were lauded by 
  critics as education as well as 
  entertaining and adventurous. 
  The are regarded highly by li- 
  brarians and teachers. 
      "Snow Dog," the story of a 
  Canadian huskie, was a notable 
   book.  "Fire Hunter," a prehis- 
   toric animal tale, was another. 
  More recently, he had written 
   stories with an Arizona setting. 
   Recent stories were "Desert 
  Dog," "Wolf Brother" and 
   "Wildlife Cameraman." 
 
     First Story Brought $5 

     Mr. Kjelgaard grew up in the 
  Pennsylvania mountains, went 
  to a country school and shot his 
  first deer, when he was 8.  Later, 
  he went to a town school and 
   for two years took Syracuse uni- 
  versity extension courses while 
  he worked at a factory in Endi- 
  cott, N. Y.  He had already sold 
  his first story (for $5) to an out- 
  door magazine. 
     The author always had insist- 
  ed that "you can't write down 
  to kids."  He told how "kids spot 
  weaknesses in a juvenile book 
  that would get by in a book for 
  adults." 
     His philosophy was: "You 
  have to struggle to get up to the 
  kids' level." 
     Mr. Kjelgaard spoke to many 
   gatherings for young readers in 
  the Milwaukee area and was a 
  guest on many public library 
  sponsored programs. 
     He is survived by his wife; a 
  daughter, Karen, Phoenix; four 
  brothers, John, Milwaukee; Win- 
  field, Boston; Robert, Endicott, 
  N. Y., and Henry, Athens, Pa.; 
  a sister, Miss Betty Kjelgaard, 
   New York, and his father, Dr. 
  Carroll W. Kjelgaard, New York. 
 

 
From The Milwaukee Journal, July 14, 1959
"Copyright 1998 Journal Sentinel Inc., reproduced with permission."
Home

Background graphic from dust jacket of Forest Patrol - 1941, permission to
display granted by Holiday House, Inc.

Last Updated January 15, 1999