132. Swamp Cat

Swamp Cat by Jim Kjelgaard
Illustrated by Edward Shenton

Pages: 175
Finished: Dec. 15, 2007
Reason for Reading: four-legged friends challenge
First Published: 1957
Genre: YA, outdoor adventure
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The sound came to Frosty as a mere vibration that hummed about the fine hairs in his inner ears and set his whiskers to tingling.

Comments: Seventeen-year-old Andy Gates lives alone on his family's swamp property in the hill country. His family has lived here for generations and he is the last of his line. At 14, Andy takes himself to town and earns a 4 year high school education in 3 years then takes himself back to his land. No one has ever been able to make a living from the swamps but after much deliberating Andy decides to stock his swamps with muskrats as he has read the Louisiana swamps hold. Andy also comes to find a companion in a stray cat that has recently been dumped in the hill country by a mean-spirited hillman.

Jim Kjelgaard is, in my opinion, one of the great American juvenile writers and his extensive backlist of books are sadly mostly out-of-print. His books are, for the most part, aimed at teenage boys. This is a beautifully written book. The plot is quite simple but character driven. Frosty, the cat, is just as well-developed a character as any of the people. This is an uplifting book with characters who strive to do right, yet are not perfect and make mistakes that they can learn from. The only problem I have with this book is that the ending was rather abrupt and somewhat ambiguous but that does not deter my recommendation of this book. Especially recommended for those who enjoy tales of living off the land.


  1. Gosh, that cover looks familiar. I'm quite sure there was a JK book on my childhood shelf called Big Red. What is it about those old covers?

  2. I so agree! The artwork on the old covers is always so amazing, the colours so bright.


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