Title: The Black Fawn
Author: Jim Kjelgaard
Major Themes: Deer, Family Life, Farm Life, Orphans
Synopsis: When Bud, an orphan, goes to live with an elderly farming couple, he cannot accept that they really love him.
My boys have listened to The Black Fawn several times, and seemed to really enjoy it. I don’t do well with audio books, but I found it for my Kindle. Soon I knew why they liked it—I do, too. This is not an animal story, despite the title; it’s a story about a boy. It’s also a story about two elderly people and their love for a boy who needs their love.
When Bud arrived on the Bennett’s farm from the orphanage, he was terrified, but not about to show it. No one would ever see any vulnerability in him! When Gramps assigned him to weed the bean field by hand, and explained that the weeds needed to be removed so the plants could grow, he was astounded and set to work eagerly. Soon, though, the job became torture. Gramps kept him working, though, regardless of Gram’s protests, until the boy’s stoic exterior broke down and he showed interest in something.
Gram and Gramps kept showing love to Bud, and treating him as their own child—but what would happen when all their eleven children came home for Christmas? Bud knew he would be on the outside then. He knew he would be ignored and pushed aside. He also knows he will not receive any gifts—he doesn’t expect anything. After all, he was only brought from the orphanage to work—right? He is determined to take the best care possible of Gramps, though, when the old man starts having heart trouble; it’s the only way he can think of to repay the old couple for their kindness.
And then there is the black fawn. The first time Bud visited the woods he stumbled upon a tiny black fawn and fell in love with him. The black fawn’s fate seemed to be connected with his own; if something bad happened to the fawn, Bud believed his own good luck would be gone, too. When Gramps sets his heart on killing the now-full-grown fawn for a trophy, what will Bud do? The ending of the book was quite surprising.
This is a great book for boys who love nature or farming. As I said, my boys who have listened to it several times really enjoyed it. The only thing one of them mentioned that he didn’t care for was the language, as detailed below. The main theme I picked up on through the book was the love of family, whether biological or adoptive. It was a very heart-warming story.
WARNING: Dang appears in chapter 9, chapter 10, and chapter 11. Gosh is twice in chapter 2, once in chapter 7, and once in chapter 11. Heck is in chapter 2 and chapter 12. Darn appears three times in chapter 2, once in chapter 3, and once in chapter 11. Gee is twice in chapter 6.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12