My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Posted October 14, 2015 in Book Review / 0 Comments

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead GeorgeMy Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Series: Mountain #1
Also in this series: On the Far Side of the Mountain, Frightful's Mountain
on May 21st 2001
Genres: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon

Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.

Main Points
Writing Style
This seems to be a manual more than fiction, but it does a pretty good job of blending information and story. It really was an addicting read. So many new things were happening all the time, and I learned SO MUCH. The style was simple at times, elegant at others, but never boring.
This book is definitely a book I would take with me if I ever wanted to survive in the wild. It’s basically a wilderness survival manual, along with Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Swiss Family Robinson, and others (I’m going to make a Favorites Friday post on these). I LOVED it. It seemed so real, so possible, and endearing and heartwarming. It inspired me to explore the woods around my own house and perhaps build a little house there as well!
Sam: I loved Sam. He was very resourceful and took nothing for granted. If he needed something, he’d either make it or find it, and was very neighborly and always shared. His relationships were wonderful, too, with everyone he met and especially his falcon Frightful. He seemed the perfect friend, the perfect wild boy living in the tree next door. He had such a peaceful temperament, rarely getting mad or distressed.
Bando: I did so like Bando, as Sam’s first friend. The whistles were a really good idea. I would have done exactly as he did, spending vacations up there with Sam.
Matt: A nice reporter boy, thankfully not the type to ruin everything for Sam.
Aaron: Also nice and surprisingly not inquisitive.
Dad: Surprisingly supportive! He didn’t seem disappointed at all that Sam was living just fine without his family. Also his mother- mine certainly wouldn’t have been so okay with it all.
Frightful, Jessie Coon James, The Baron Weasel, and the rest: quite a happy bunch of wood-dwellers. They all had such character, and yet were believably real too. It wasn’t quite Disney, but it seemed so safe…I’m surprised Sam didn’t meet a mountain lion or bear or something more dangerous up there.
Ending (no spoilers) 
The ending was wonderful and a little sad. I was so disappointed to see it all end, but then I thought, WAIT! There’s a sequel! And ANOTHER SEQUEL! It goes on! I can’t tell you how jubilant I was when I remembered that. I couldn’t wait to get started on the next book. (This was even more hilarious when I remembered that I had already read the sequel a long time ago and had just forgotten about it completely, I was so engrossed in the story :D)
Bottom Line
This book was SO AMAZING! If not for the writing style, for the sheer amount of wilderness survival information provided! The perfect book to have with you when you go exploring. It’s so inspiring! The characters are so loveable and the story moves along at a wonderfully captivating pace. Impossible to put down! Will I be reading the rest of the series? Of course! Right away! Would I read more by Jean Craighead George? Possibly….hopefully her others are as good as this series. Would I recommend this book to others? Definitely. Especially kids.

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About Jean Craighead George

Jean Craighead George wrote over eighty popular books for young adults, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and the Newbery Honor book My Side of the Mountain. Most of her books deal with topics related to the environment and the natural world. While she mostly wrote children’s fiction, she also wrote at least two guides to cooking with wild foods, and an autobiography, Journey Inward.

The mother of three children, (Twig C. George, Craig, and T. Luke George) Jean George was a grandmother who joyfully read to her grandchildren since the time they were born. Over the years Jean George kept one hundred and seventy-three pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York. “Most of these wild animals depart in autumn when the sun changes their behaviour and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories.”

Overall: five-stars


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