After my son told me the vague story of Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain, I didn’t understand what it was about. I didn’t understand why a child would run off and live in the mountains by himself. I wondered if he’d been abused and how he’d survived. The summary of an eight-year-old isn’t the most specific. Other adults told me they’d loved it when they were young (but couldn’t really remember the storyline), and I started to wonder just how old the book was. And then I started to read it.
First, My Side of the Mountain was published in 1959. The world was different back then. American culture was different back then. You’ve gotta have that mindset going in. Otherwise you will seriously wonder at the parents’ in this story. Second, the main character, Sam Gribley, had grit. The kid was smart and studied before beginning his year-long adventure in the woods. He learned from the world around him. He wasn’t afraid of hunting and preparing the animals he caught and found. What Sam didn’t know, he went to the library and learned about. He learned falconry. He learned trapping. He learned to live in the wild.
Ms. George’s inspiration for the book was that most children (at least in her day) tried to run away from home at least once. She decided to explore the idea of what would happen if one succeeded. I really liked this book. Ms. George’s writing style is what I can only describe as realistic. I feel like My Side of the Mountain is what you would get if a twelve-year-old boy wrote a book and was trying to sound as professional as he could. It’s almost cute. Surprisingly, I didn’t see the end coming. I won’t give it away, but it was different than I expected. Overall, this is a book that little boys will love. Little girls will also enjoy it, but this is one that isn’t geared specifically to girls - the way I feel like so many books today are. As a mom of boys, I found My Side of the Mountain refreshing and something that I am happy to let my kids read. Excuse me while I go read the next two books in the series.