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
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.