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Brighty of the Grand Canyon Hardcover – 1963
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Top Customer Reviews
When I reread it a few weeks ago, I was so intrigued that I did some research after I read the book and discovered many things: the real, sad ending of the story, which Marguerite altered for her young readers; all the controversy surrounding the Grand Canyon burros; and the Bureau of Land Management takeover that replaced the burros' previous status under the 1971 protection act driven into fruition by activist "Wild Horse Annie" (signed by Richard Nixon) with unprotected National Park status, for starters. In 1979, the 577 Grand Canyon burros were scheduled to be shot, but Fund for Animals animal lover and rescuer Cleveland Amory intervened and had them airlifted at his expense and sent to his Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. The reason for this destruction was the supposed competition of grazing space with bighorn sheep; Marguerite Henry was blamed for the public outcry against their management techniques; ie., shooting all the burros. She defended herself (and the burros) by saying that bighorn sheep grazed on different pasture from burros. The burro sculpture she had donated to the Grand Canyon visitor center some time earlier was put into storage by federal authorities, and an adoption program put into effect to placate the public has mostly failed, since most of the burros (and wild horses) rounded up on federal lands have been languishing in holding pens, and only a small percentage (2500 a year) are actually adopted. Many thousands are killed and sold to slaughterhouses. More burros (and horses) every year are rounded up, mostly by air methods, to rid the West of them. You can find the actual numbers on the Arizona Bureau of Land Management website: how many rounded up, how many injured and killed, and the specific areas--but none in the Grand Canyon, where Brighty and other burros lived and worked for who knows how many decades, because the Grand Canyon has been devoid of burros for almost 40 years.
Only the story, which left me with a feeling of a happy-spirited little burro, forever roaming free, and a sweet movie made in 1967 starring Joseph Cotten and directed by Norman Foster, remain to remind us of one special burro and many others that once lived in Arizona.
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.