Brighty of the Grand Canyon Hardcover – April 14, 2015
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About the Author
Wesley Dennis was best known for his illustrations in collaboration with author Marguerite Henry. They published sixteen books together.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A SHAGGY young burro lay asleep in the gray dust of the canyon trail. Except for the slow heaving of his sides and an occasional flick of an ear, he seemed part of the dust and the ageless limestone that rose in great towering battlements behind him.
The sun had been shining fiercely on his belly and now began climbing up over his sides, then slowly up the canyon wall. But for a long time the rocks held their heat and the solitary figure dozed on.
A ground squirrel peered out from a chink in the wall, watching a moment with friendly eyes, then dived back where it came from. A cottontail rabbit played hop, skip, and jump around him. But nothing disturbed the little gray lump, not even a nuthatch hammering away at a juniper tree.
It was the wind, an uprising current of wind from the depths of the canyon, that finally aroused him. It whirled up his nose and down his ears, tickling him awake.
With a grunting sigh he began rolling, and with each turn just missed falling off his ledge into Bright Angel Creek, hundreds of feet below. Now he sat up on his haunches, squirming his back against the rough, warm limestone. He gave a luxurious yawn and gazed at the opposite wall as if in search of some creature like himself. But there was only rock, rising sheer and lonely to the sky.
He stretched his forelegs and then he was up, shaking the dust from his coat. Over the ledge a few spears of bunch grass grew in a crevice. He leaned out into space and cropped them, jaws swinging sideways as he chewed, while his eyes, from under their thatched roof of hair, looked out over his world. It was a world of rock piled up and up, layer on layer to the sky, and down and down to the Colorado River far below.
Slowly, as if balancing the weight of his great ears, the little fellow swung his head around to follow the winding river. His eyes suddenly fixed on a tiny white spot, and at sight of it he opened wide his jaws, swelled out his nostrils, and began braying: “Yeeee-aw—yee-aw! Yee-a-a-aw!”
Instantly the canyon took up the cry. South wall to north and back again it banged and bounced the bray until there was nothing left of it.
The burro waited, listening. His ears probed the white spot as if to pull something out of it. There it was! An answering sound! A bellowing halloa, almost as big and brassy as his own. It set the little burro into action.
Down the trail he plunged, zigzagging from ledge to ledge, ears flopping, tail swinging, hoofs toe-dancing the narrow path. Once on his way, a kind of momentum took hold of him and he fairly flew, rounding one cliff only to face another.
Time and again he crossed Bright Angel Creek, a foaming mountain stream that tumbled downward to the river. For yards and yards he walked in its bed, picking his way around the glossy boulders. But he neither drank nor played in the water.
Only once did he stop to study his goal. The white spot had grown to a tent, and nearby, campfire smoke was curling upward. Satisfied, he plunged on again, always traveling within sight and sound of the busy creek.
The afternoon was late and purple shadows were spilling down the canyon walls when he came at last upon the source of the smoke. An old, old prospector with flowing white hair was piling driftwood on a fire. And beside the fire stood an iron skillet and a bowl of yellow batter.
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Also, I really liked how the author describes the characters. All of them have very distinct personalities, especially Brighty!
The chapter length is short, but each chapter has a lot of information.
Finally if you are worried that this book is too old, then that not the case. I am 13-years old and I read this book easily and with enjoyment. I think any 13-year old kid could read this book, because it is not outdated and the story line is great.
I really recommend this book!
And I only wish I could give this gem a four and a half star rating it was so nearly perfect.
So lets get the few flaws out of the way first. My biggest gripe was that it lacked one picture; a drawing of Brighty's "ghost" running down the canyon trail that accompanies the 'and now....' afterward in all the other copies I have of this book. While all of the black and white illustrations at the heading of each chapter where there, they were all a little smaller than in older editions. The cover, while lovely, is a thin paper dust jacket. The actual book cover is a nice green but with no pictures. But these are, in my humble opinion, the only flaws with this edition of Brighty of the Grand Canyon.
As for what's right...all of Wesley Dennis' color plates are there and in beautiful full color. Each chapter is headed with a lined heading, the chapter name and the chapter number. My older editions have only the chapter name. The print is set in an easy to read font, which if I remember right was a little bigger than the font of my older editions; especially the foreword and the afterword. And as I said before all of the black and white illustrations are there as well.
As for the story of Brighty, I feel that it holds up well even though it was first published in 1953. There is excitement and danger and close calls, but all of our heroes come through. And even just a little bit of history is added for good measure.
So I highly recommend "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" for anyone...young or old...that is looking for a good absorbing tale to read.