Jean Craighead George
Penguin Young Readers
The Chapters/Indigo description:
Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods-all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.This is a book I remember reading at least twice as a kid. And, bot times I absolutely loved it! The story is neat, being written from Sam's perspective as though we're reading the notebook he was keeping of his life in the wilderness for that year or so. Watching him gain confidence in the knowledge he had from the start as he finds that it does carry him through the year and the situations he finds himself in is just so natural.
And the friends he makes - although there's very few humans in the story, the animals more than make up for it: Frightful, the falcon Sam raises and trains to hunt for him, The Baron and also the raccoon all brought at least one smile to my face as I was reading. Not to mention the many sketches that this book is filled with. All of it has so much charm.
I don't know why it is, but so many of my favourite kids books are so old, because I also loved Gone Away Lake. My Side of the Mountain originally came out in 1960 and was made a Newberry Honor book. Despite being fifty years old now, the book didn't feel all that dated to me at all - despite the fact that a twelve-year-old boy was able to run away and live for more than a year on his own. I guess it is more than a bit unrealistic these days - at the very least, the librarian should have reported him as a run-away, and not to mention that his parents didn't seem to be too worried about him. I guess on second thought, the book is rather dated. But, it's still a great story.
When I first read My Side of the Mountain, I didn't realize there were sequels, but there are two. One of which, I knew about before I started this re-read: The Far Side of the Mountain. I have the feeling I've read the book before, but there's one after that too: Frightful's Mountain.
My Side of the Mountain is a book I'll gladly recommend for both boys and girls who are interested in the outdoors. I wonder though, if kids today might think the book is too tame compared with more modern books.