HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Indian Fur
Author: Glenn Balch
Illustrator: Robert Frankenberg
Publisher: Crowell, 1951
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Balch, Glenn. Indian Fur (published in 1951 by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York City, NY). Sixteen year old John Daniels is described as “a tall youth, long and strong of leg, with blue eyes and yellow hair, a wide, strong mouth, and a good though young line of jaw.” He is from Virginia, where he lives on a farm with his Pa, Ma, and younger siblings Ellen and Tim. But he is at the Missouri River in St. Louis, MO, looking for his older brother George, who had headed west to make a fortune trapping beaver. St. Louis was the last place from which the family had heard from George, but he’s not there. So John convinces Arny Bliss, who is a trapper and scout for Shad DuMond, to let him accompany DuMond’s party to the mountain men’s rondevouz at Pierre’s Hole, hoping that George will be present. But his brother is not there either.
So John and Arny set off alone to trap beaver and maybe come across George. Unfortunately, they are captured by Shoshones. And to make matters worse, the Shoshones are at war with the neighboring Blackfeet. What happens to John and Arny? Can they find any clues that will lead them to George or at least find out where he went? And will John ever make it back home? Indian Fur is described as a “Children’s book by Idaho author Glenn Balch,” but I would say more young adult. One reader reviewer said, “I read this book 50 years ago in grade school and never forgot the story. I bought it for my 12 year old grand daughter and she said it was very exciting!” Another wrote, “As a child I loved Glenn Balch books especially about horses and dogs.” I first saw this book in a one room school museum and thought that it sounded good. It is!
Glenn Balch (1902-1989), born in Venus, TX, was a talented essayist who published many articles in Field & Stream and other outdoor magazines, especially after moving to Idaho. He was also known for his juvenile novels. This one has some references to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, and a few common euphemisms (darn it, dad-burned, gee), but no cursing or profanity. Some people may not like the fact that terms like “Injun” and “redskin” are used, but that’s the way people talked back then. It is an exciting adventure story, the kind that I dearly loved when I was a boy. In 1965 Balch’s novel Indian Paint was made into a motion picture starring Johnny Crawford and Jay Silverheels. His 34th and last book was published in 1976. He died in 1989 from injuries after an automobile accident. The following year, two of his novels were republished as part of Idaho’s statehood centennial commemoration.