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Author Jean Craighead George Passes to Her Side of the Mountain

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May 23, 2012

Author Jean Craighead George Passes to Her Side of the Mountain

By Chad Love

For those of us who grew up in the B.D. epoch (before digital), reading was the primary way to stoke our young imaginations. There were few books that fired my pre-adult synapses more thoroughly than Jean Craighead George's "My Side of the Mountain."

This classic adventure/survival/nature tale about a boy named Sam, a falcon and their woodland adventures spurred many a childhood fantasy of mine. There were two people I wanted to be in 1979: Luke Skywalker and Sam Gribley. I knew, even at that tender age, that I'd never be able to make it into the cockpit of an X-wing, but Sam's world was wondrously real, tangible and right outside my back door. Reading "My Side of the Mountain" was a huge factor in sparking my lifelong interest in hunting, fishing and the natural world.
 
So it was sad to read (via Stephen Bodio's always awesome Querencia blog) of George's passing.
 
From Bodio's blog:
Old friends and heroes are dying faster than I can write about them. Jean Craighead George, author of one of my favorite childhood books*, My Side of the Mountain, and sister to the even better- known conservationists and falconers , the twin brothers Frank and John, died last week at 92. NYT here, Wiki here, her own home site here.
 
The New York Times obit gives some detail of George's life and career...
 
From The New York Times:
Jean Craighead George, a Newbery Award-winning writer for young people whose books brought the natural world from the Catskill Mountains to the Alaskan tundra to wild, luminous life, died on Tuesday in Mount Kisco, N.Y. She was 92. The author of more than 100 fiction and nonfiction titles that have collectively sold millions of copies, Ms. George was best known for two novels for older children, “My Side of the Mountain” (1959), which she also illustrated, and “Julie of the Wolves” (1972), illustrated by John Schoenherr. That book won the Newbery Medal — considered the Pulitzer Prize of children’s letters — in 1973.  “My Side of the Mountain” tells the story of Sam Gribley, a youth who forsakes a life of quiet desperation in New York City to live on his own in the Catskills wilderness. There, he survives by virtue of the deep sympathy with nature that animates all of Ms. George’s protagonists, until the modern world closes in again.
 
The rest of the obit and the links in Stephen Bodio's blog post are worth a read, as Ms. George led a pretty fascinating life. If you haven't yet read "My Side of the Mountain" do yourself a favor: go find a copy and read it. Then do your children a favor and give it to them.

Did anyone else read and become inspired by "My Side of the Mountain"? What were some of the other nature-themed children's and young adult books that influenced you growing up?

Comments (20)

Top Rated
All Comments
from davycrockettfv wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I remember repeatedly reading "My Side of the Mountain" as a kid. That's probably where my love of the outdoors all began as her descriptions and illustrations made my imagination run wild with the possibilities and adventures to be found in the wild. What a great gift and legacy!

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from GregMc wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

A sad day indeed. I read My Side of the Mountain over and over as a kid and I think I'll dig it out and read it again now.
If we could get more kids to put down their iphones for a little while and read that book, we'd be doing them a favor.

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from CL3 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Never read it (before my time). It's on hold at the library now though.

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from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Read it and loved it as a kid, my mom just got an old worn copy from a library sale and when I saw it I picked it up and read it again, it's still great.

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from chuckles wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

That is a fantastic book and one of my very early favorites. I wanted to be that kid so badly. Still do.
RIP Ms. George.

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from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I loved this book as well. I picked up a copy a couple of years ago to make sure it was on my shelf for the kids(Right next to my Gary Paulsen books)

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from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I also read Charlie's Raven by the late Mrs George. Not as well written but a good nature book about man and animals living together.

Did anyone ever read "Incedent at Hawk's Hill" by Eckert? I read this about the same time as I read My Side of the Mountain. These two books got me thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts.

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from jamesti wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

gonna check it out. i cant believe i havent read it!

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from MATroutslayer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Man, best book ever. I must have read it 50 times, as well as the sequel with sam's sister. That book inspired me to become a survivalist, a passion that has grown exponentially in the past bunch of years. Now, at the ripe old age of 29, I am in the process of getting my falconry license. Baron weasel, Jesse Coon James, Frightful, Bando, the librarian, that goofy city kid.... All awesome characters.
Jean George, Gary Paulsen, Rutherford Montgomery and Wilson Wrawls (sp?) all shaped the way I viewed the world.
Ms. George, thank you for the profound impact, you are cherished.
Spuddog, was that the book about the kid who was messing around with that badger? If it was, thanks for the memory jog. If not, does anyone know what book that was?

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from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Troutslayer - Yes, lost as a child and lived w/ a badger. I need to get a copy.

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from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Love My Side of the Mountain, my copy has been well used, I take it everywhere with me. I can quote most of the book to the very word. Sam's house in the old hemlock tree was the coolest thing ever to me, and I memorized the map in the front of the book. The meadow, the gorge, the marsh, the stream, the spring, the farm wall, it feels like I lived there. I still name every coon I see Jesse Coon James. RIP Ms. George

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from ckRich wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I gave away my copy a long time ago, it was just too good not to share. I need to get another.

Glad to see I'm not the only Paulsen fan out there. I must've read Hatchet, Brian's Winter, and My Side of the Mountain 20 times a piece when I was younger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane256 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've read My Side of the Mountain a number of times over the years. It was the first book I remember reading that I thought was "fun" to read. Rest In Peace.

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from jdwood wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

It is sad to hear of Ms. George's passing. My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorite books growing up, I enjoyed reading a lot of her other books as well. Vulpes the Red Fox was another really great read.

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from Raccoon Creeker wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I read that book a long time ago and it's still standing as an all-time favorite. Can't express how much it inspired me to truly appreciate the outdoors, and how bad I wanted to be Sam Gribley, rest in peace

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from oscarthefish wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

"My Side of the Mountain" should be required reading in every 10 year old's classroom.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from otdorjunky wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

this was and still is one of my all time favorite books. it embodies everything i have ever wanted to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from otdorjunky wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

this was and still is one of my all time favorite books. it embodies everything i have ever wanted to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wellsmi wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

It's terribly sad. My side of the mountain and Hatchet were two of my favorite books growing up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

I'm sure I wasn't the only kid who had his big tree all picked out in the woods. "Next time Mom and Dad yell at me for something, I'm outta here!"

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Post a Comment

from davycrockettfv wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I remember repeatedly reading "My Side of the Mountain" as a kid. That's probably where my love of the outdoors all began as her descriptions and illustrations made my imagination run wild with the possibilities and adventures to be found in the wild. What a great gift and legacy!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

A sad day indeed. I read My Side of the Mountain over and over as a kid and I think I'll dig it out and read it again now.
If we could get more kids to put down their iphones for a little while and read that book, we'd be doing them a favor.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Never read it (before my time). It's on hold at the library now though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Read it and loved it as a kid, my mom just got an old worn copy from a library sale and when I saw it I picked it up and read it again, it's still great.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

That is a fantastic book and one of my very early favorites. I wanted to be that kid so badly. Still do.
RIP Ms. George.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I loved this book as well. I picked up a copy a couple of years ago to make sure it was on my shelf for the kids(Right next to my Gary Paulsen books)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I also read Charlie's Raven by the late Mrs George. Not as well written but a good nature book about man and animals living together.

Did anyone ever read "Incedent at Hawk's Hill" by Eckert? I read this about the same time as I read My Side of the Mountain. These two books got me thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

gonna check it out. i cant believe i havent read it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MATroutslayer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Man, best book ever. I must have read it 50 times, as well as the sequel with sam's sister. That book inspired me to become a survivalist, a passion that has grown exponentially in the past bunch of years. Now, at the ripe old age of 29, I am in the process of getting my falconry license. Baron weasel, Jesse Coon James, Frightful, Bando, the librarian, that goofy city kid.... All awesome characters.
Jean George, Gary Paulsen, Rutherford Montgomery and Wilson Wrawls (sp?) all shaped the way I viewed the world.
Ms. George, thank you for the profound impact, you are cherished.
Spuddog, was that the book about the kid who was messing around with that badger? If it was, thanks for the memory jog. If not, does anyone know what book that was?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spuddog wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Troutslayer - Yes, lost as a child and lived w/ a badger. I need to get a copy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuck the weasel wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Love My Side of the Mountain, my copy has been well used, I take it everywhere with me. I can quote most of the book to the very word. Sam's house in the old hemlock tree was the coolest thing ever to me, and I memorized the map in the front of the book. The meadow, the gorge, the marsh, the stream, the spring, the farm wall, it feels like I lived there. I still name every coon I see Jesse Coon James. RIP Ms. George

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I gave away my copy a long time ago, it was just too good not to share. I need to get another.

Glad to see I'm not the only Paulsen fan out there. I must've read Hatchet, Brian's Winter, and My Side of the Mountain 20 times a piece when I was younger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane256 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've read My Side of the Mountain a number of times over the years. It was the first book I remember reading that I thought was "fun" to read. Rest In Peace.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jdwood wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

It is sad to hear of Ms. George's passing. My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorite books growing up, I enjoyed reading a lot of her other books as well. Vulpes the Red Fox was another really great read.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Raccoon Creeker wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I read that book a long time ago and it's still standing as an all-time favorite. Can't express how much it inspired me to truly appreciate the outdoors, and how bad I wanted to be Sam Gribley, rest in peace

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from oscarthefish wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

"My Side of the Mountain" should be required reading in every 10 year old's classroom.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from otdorjunky wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

this was and still is one of my all time favorite books. it embodies everything i have ever wanted to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from otdorjunky wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

this was and still is one of my all time favorite books. it embodies everything i have ever wanted to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wellsmi wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

It's terribly sad. My side of the mountain and Hatchet were two of my favorite books growing up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

I'm sure I wasn't the only kid who had his big tree all picked out in the woods. "Next time Mom and Dad yell at me for something, I'm outta here!"

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment