Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George

I read this book over and over and over as a kid.  Between it and The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, I also spent a huge amount of time imagining I was living alone in the wilderness and surviving off the land.  (I also went through this phase of eating random flowers to see if they were something I should keep an eye out for if I ever needed to live in a flower-strewn meadow.  Know of any meadows where there are a lot of carnations?  I liked them.)

Well, now I've read it as an adult, and I have to say... it still sounds like a pretty idyllic lifestyle.  I read it aloud to my kids, and they really liked it too!  My son had already loved it for several years, but my daughters hadn't read it, so it was a fun new adventure for them.  And my son still enjoyed getting to hear it read aloud and experience it that way.

I really admire stories of people being resourceful and figuring out ways to do things like store food, build a home, and even make clothes.  It does seem pretty unbelievable to me that Sam Gribley's parents would have said, "Sure, go hitchhike your way to our family land in the Catskills and live off the land.  Have fun!"  But... it was the '50s.  Perhaps it could have happened.  That's far harder for me to believe than that a resourceful boy could learn enough from books that he could live in the wilderness just fine.  

And yes, I have this movie-tie-in edition.  I remember seeing the movie once, as a kid, and being thoroughly disgusted with it, though I don't remember why anymore.  But this is the edition I found at a yard sale when I was in grade school, wrote my name inside in pink cursive, and read repeatedly.  So I must keep it.

Particularly Good Bits:

"Let's face it, Thoreau, you can't live in America today and be quietly different.  If you are going to be different, you are going to stand out, and people are going to hear about you" (p. 198).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G.  A clean and lovely classic.

This is my 14th book read and reviewed for my 3rd Classics Club list.


  1. As long as they don't develop a thirst for carnations. :)

    The book sounds a bit like Swallows & Amazons. Parents: Here's a large lake, a boat, & an island to camp out on. Come back every now & then & we'll give you milk & fresh bread. Have fun!

    1. George, well, so far I haven't noticed anything getting nibbled that shouldn't ;-)

      It does have a bit of a similarity to Swallows and Amazons, which I'm also reading aloud to my kids right now, between other books for school. Those kids were provisioned by their mom and regularly saw her, though, so slightly less... wild.


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