Grownup Books
Grown-Up Review
Grownup Links
Kids' Resources
Kids Books
Kids Author Interview
Kids Book Focus
Kids Music

 

 

 

 

 

My Side of the Mountain

My Side of the Mountain Jean Craighead George tells the story of a boy who really wants to get away from it all. So, he leaves home to live in the mountains, where he learns to live off the land and gains a sense of independence and adventure before he finally reunites with his family. Generation Green's Recommended Reading List features a wonderful selection of books for children of all ages, as well as suggestions for adults.

  Scott Foresman; ISBN: 0140348107 (February 2000)


(Reading level: ages 9-12)

Review by Mary Guthrie (September 2002)
My Side of the Mountain is the story of Sam Gribley, who runs away (with his parents’ full knowledge) from New York City to the Catskill Mountains. There he lives for a year, alone in the wilderness.

This is an amazing book, full of convincing, fascinating detail and written in an intelligent but innocent first person voice. Author Jean Craighead George based some of the story on her own childhood spent camping with her entomologist/ecologist father, and her falconer brothers.

Armed with flint and steel, Sam’s first task is one he flubs...to build a fire. Soon, though, he’s made a home by burning out the center of an enormous hemlock, whittled effective fishhooks, and harvested acorns, cattails and apples. He even steals a poacher’s deer and makes himself a pair of pants.

He also steals a baby falcon, names her Frightful, and raises her and trains her to hunt for him. He’s befriended by the mysterious Bando, with whom he spends evenings whittling and playing willow-slide whistles. He goes sledding using a turtle shell, makes friends with some animals (Baron the Weasel and Jesse Coon James are just a couple), and generally has the kind of adventurous fun most kids only daydream about.

My Side of the Mountain presents an idea of wilderness that is probably unattainable to most modern Americans. For kids reading on their own, this book could light a fire under their interest in ecology that lasts a lifetime. The book can show us that while the life Sam builds is not one that he can keep, the secrets held by the wilderness can be revealed to us. The author, Jean Craighead George, wrote the original edition of this novel more than 40 years ago, and only recently wrote two sequels, Frightful’s Mountain and On the Far Side of the Mountain. So, those of us who loved this book as youths can now read the rest of the trilogy to our own children.


To learn more about the reviewer, Mary Guthrie, click here.

To see Generation Green's reading list for kids and intermediate readers, click here.