My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is one book I’m glad I took the time to read! Life has been very hectic around here, and when I realized on Saturday that the Children’s Classics bookclub over at 5 Minutes for Books was coming up shortly, I panicked (a little). I mean, I think I’m the one who suggested this month’s theme of adventure! (You can correct me if I’m wrong, girls. 🙂 ) I was in the middle of two books at the time, one of which was an overdue interlibrary loan book that racks up overdue charges at the rate of fifty cents a day! I began to scan the shelves at home, all the while thinking that I could just write up a glowing review of The Cayor Hatchet from memory. However, I spied the Newbery honor-winning story of Sam Gribley and his falcon, Frightful, and, thinking it is a story that I surely should’ve read by now, I designated it as my weekend book-of-choice.
This is a great little book. Published in 1959, it has a real innocence about it that I love. My more modern (and motherly) sensibilities are a little shaken by the idea that Sam runs away and no one finds him for several months. Wow! However, I can appreciate his yearning to get out of the noise and chaos of New York City (not that I’ve ever lived there, but I can imagine). Sam seems a little wise beyond his years because he knows so much about living in the wild (and this before the days of all those television programs that show men eating all sorts of digusting interesting things!). However, Jean Craighead George did manage to retain an innocency about Sam, all the same. When I had read enough into the book to learn that Sam is actually an (old?) teenager, I was surprised, nonetheless. His knowledge of the wild makes him seem old, but his innocence about life makes him seem younger than that. I think I saw him as a twelve year old.
I love that George wrote this book to read as excerpts from Sam’s journal, scratched down on bark. I also loved his drawings of plants, animals, the tools he makes, etc. Reading this book makes me want to get out into nature and really listen even more; I know I have a deficit of nature in my life. I’m sorry that I missed this book as a child–I think this book would really fuel a childish imagination. However, I’m glad I found it when I did. I look forward to reading this one to my girls in a few years. The only thing I didn’t much like about My Side of the Mountain is the ending, but I know there are a couple of sequels, so there is hope for redemption. 🙂
This is actually my first experience with Jean Craighead George’s books. No, I’ve never read Julie of the Wolves. Can you believe it? Looking over Jean Craighead George’s website, I can see that she is a very prolific writer, and I look forward to reading more of her works.