Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George

Haven't we all read this one?  I think this is mandatory for every American schoolchild. 

Sam Gribley feels stifled by his life with his family.  Many brothers and sisters, plus his parents, in a small New York City apartment.  His father has spent numerous hours in the woods with him, teaching him survival skills, and Sam's grandfather once had a failed homestead in the Catskills.  So Sam decides one Spring to head out by himself and live on the mountainside alone.  His parents, assuming he'll be back in no time, wish him well.

But Sam's got more skill and resolve than his parents credit him with.  He immediately makes himself familiar with the food plants in his vicinity, and decides to camp near to a stream for fish.  He finds a great wide hemlock that is rotted inside, and hollows and burns the interior for his home.  He's able to get venison from deer that hunters are unable to locate after shooting them.

My Side of the Mountain follows Sam through the following year as he learns to adapt to his surroundings through the seasons.  In order to help with hunting, he steals a baby falcon from its nest and trains it to return prey.  He names her Frightful.  He also makes friends with a weasel and a raccoon, as well as the occasional human kindred spirit.

A great enjoyable book!  Sam narrates and illustrates his own story in a calm but confident voice.  I need to get on it and read the sequels.

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