Series: Mountain #1
Published by Puffin on 1959
Source: Bought from Amazon
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Terribly unhappy in his family's crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude and danger of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.
I read this book for my children’s literature class as part of my library and information science grad program. One of our assignments was to write a professional book review (like one that could be published in Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus) of one of our books for the semester, and so I chose to review My Side of the Mountain!
Roughing it in the mountain wilderness never sounded so appealing! Sam Gribley, tired of his monotonous life in New York City, runs away with his parents’ permission to live a simpler life, equipped with only a few of the bare essentials. This is his account, written as though he were talking directly to the reader, of his yearlong adventure in the Catskills Mountains. He tells of his fight for survival, battles against the elements, love of nature, and wild animal friends. He describes his experiences of making fire, building a shelter, finding food, hunting animals, making clothes, and ultimately discovering what he is truly capable of. Readers are also along for the journey as Sam captures, raises, and trains a falcon named Frightful to be his constant and devoted companion. Mixed in with his exciting feats are pieces of advice he has for the reader on surviving the wilderness such as, “…the more you stroke and handle a falcon, the easier they are to train.”
Jean Craighead George has created a wonderfully timeless escape for readers, both male and female, even though the story is about the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of a young boy. The scenery leaps off the page, and the coordinating drawings and diagrams help the reader picture different contraptions Sam builds and also the wildlife of the region in which he lives. Young readers will open their imaginations to the possibilities found within the pages, and more seasoned readers might have to suspend a little disbelief while reading about some of Sam’s escapades, not to mention the fact that his parents let him go on such a dangerous adventure. In any case, Sam Gribley’s adventure will have readers tearing through the pages, and leave them dreaming of going on one of their very own someday.