Format: Paperback, 192 pages
Published: May 21 2001 (original was 1959)
Genre: Fiction Adventure
Age Range: 11+
Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going–all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.
With this story there was only one thing that I didn’t like, and that was the fact that Sam seems to get through everything okay, because I don’t want children to go out and think they will be able to survive in the wilderness alone. A lot of the techniques used here are unrealistic, so that protective mother/teacher in me screams ‘THIS IS A BAD IDEA, DON’T PUT THESE IDEAS IN THEIR HEADS’. However, the reality is, most kids would read this book and think of how difficult Sam find living on his own. They will see that he doesn’t have electricity, or cell phones and wonder what life was really like before these items and material belongings became ‘necessities’ to our lives.
Jean Craighead George does an amazing job piecing together a story that a lot of kids dream of. A story of a young teen who gets sick of his life in the city and runs away. What kid wouldn’t want to run away from reality? This story gives some insight into what it would truly be like to live away from society, the cold frosts, building shelters and hunting for food. Sam deals with feeling lonely, cold and even seems a little crazy at times throughout the story. The questions I would ask Sam if he were real would be
1. Was living his life in the city REALLY worse than being alone on a mountain?
2. Were your parents looking for you?
3. What was the best/worst part of living on the mountain?
This book will give you many things to think about or discuss with your friends/classmates. This is a book that will stay in your thoughts for years to come.