History[ edit ] Brighty first appears in the annals of history in in Flagstaff, Arizona , in the possession of two men who were on their way to the Grand Canyon. He is next recorded on the South Rim where he and his owners were seen to enter the Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. Shortly after that two herdsmen entered the canyon to attempt to find the remains of an earlier drowning victim along the Colorado. Instead, they found a camp at the confluence of the Colorado and Bright Angel Creek that was abandoned with the exception of Brighty. It appeared that the two men had saddled and ridden their horses down to and into the Colorado wherein they presumably drowned.
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Start your review of Brighty of the Grand Canyon Write a review Shelves: children-s-and-ya , classics , animals , children-ss , antiquarian-books Brighty of the Grand Canyon is a childrens novel from , written by Marguerite Henry. Now viewed as a classic of American childrens literature, it tells the adventures of a little donkey or as the Spanish say, burro who blazed trails through the Grand Canyon, had many adventures and met many famous people in the process. It is loosely based on a real life donkey, who was first seen around The two of them had a special bond, but Brighty remained a free spirit, roaming the high cliffs of the Grand Canyon.
The prospector was a honest old soul, and freely told others where he thought he had located a seam of valuable copper ore, and early in the novel he was murdered by Jake Irons, a ruthless claim-jumper.
We read of all the adventures Brighty went through over the years. Brighty also made enemies of those who wanted to catch him and put him to work. More than once when he was captured, he was beaten with sticks, and once he was put into a cage and almost hanged, when the captor whom he knew from before tried to force him across the canyon. Another time Brighty barely escaped with his life, was in a fight with a mountain lion.
Brighty gladly helped those with whom he felt a loyal bond, and spent some summers carrying water from a spring below the rim, for the tourists coming to the Canyon. He was gentle and popular with children, even allowing children to ride on his back sometimes.
He never allowed adults to do this however, and would kick, bray, and run off into the distance. Brighty was a wily donkey. He also became the leader of a herd of wild donkeys, fighting for his position as their natural chief, until he was finally supplanted by a younger and fitter donkey. He watched the rock being carved out and assisted with the construction and building of the bridge.
At the opening ceremony, he was honoured by President Theodore Roosevelt, who admired Brighty very much. Brighty had often gone along with the president when he was hunting for mountain lions. Teddy Roosevelt was known to be a very keen hunter. I must admit to not enjoying this part of the novel. Times have changed of course. I tell myself too, that these locals were trying to protect the sheep and cattle they farmed, from attack by the hungry mountain lions.
But still … I feel it dates the book, I feel the context needs to be explained and discussed, should it be read by a child.
The book is most suitable for children of about 8 to In the same way some aspects of 19th century literature, where our perceptions have moved on, lead naturally to thoughtful discussion. There are just a few colour plates. The skilled illustrations in this largish book it is the first edition, from are by Wesley Denis, an American illustrator who studied horse anatomy in France. She often wrote about animals, including dogs, cats, birds, foxes, and mules, but most of her stories are about horses.
She eventually wrote fifty-nine books, all based on true stories of horses and other animals, some of which won awards.
So I went to the library, studied the horse books, and immediately fell in love with the work of Will James and Wesley Dennis. In her will she left her money to the Assateague nature preserve and Chincoteague town. In , there was an exhibition of the Art work by Wesley Dennis. There is a film of Brighty of the Grand Canyon, made in It must be stunning. Unfortunately, the real-life Brighty did come come to a sad end, at the hand of some travellers in about
They give their spirit to the place where they had lived, a part of the rocks and streams and the wind and the sky. And as an adult today, I realize such feral animals pose a threat to delicate desert ecosystems of the west. Nevertheless, every time I go to the South Rim, I get a thrill out of seeing the mules in the corral and the daily ritual of stoic mules heading down the Bright Angel Trail each loaded up with an excited visitor. Your initiation rite begins when your mule seems to lean over the edge on those outside corners. And suddenly you are hanging on for dear life as you stare straight down into sheer, dizzying depths that your mind cannot comprehend.
Brighty of the Grand Canyon