Book Review: My Side of the Mountain
Ages 10 to 15
Jean Craighead George’s famous novel My Side of the Mountain tells the story of Sam Gribley, a 12-year old boy from New York City who decides to run away to the mountains and live off the land. This book, published in 1959, is the quintessential survival novel, written long before Hatchet. As the author writes in the book’s introduction, “Almost everyone I know has dreamed at some time of running a way to a distant mountain or island, castle or sailing ship, to live there in beauty and peace. Few of us make it, however.” Sam Gribley is one of the few runaway children who perseveres. He learns about wilderness survival, making fish hooks out of wood, collecting edible plants, making snares, tanning deer hides in oak stumps, and hollowing out an ancient hemlock tree to live in. He even tames a beautiful peregrine falcon, whom he names Frightful, and teaches her to hunt rabbits for him. Along the way he befriends the creatures of the forest, narrowly escapes discovery by fellow humans, and survives a vicious winter inside his cozy tree. This book will teach children and adults alike about the values of courage, independence, and the strength of the human spirit. Most importantly, it will cultivate a love for the natural world, and serve as a reminder of the time when men and women lived off the land. I would recommend this book to anyone with a spirit for adventure and a taste for all things wild and beautiful.
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