My Side of the Mountain (1959) by Jean Craighead George, unlike my last read, fully deserves its spot on the Top 100 Chapter Books list. I’m very glad too that I read it in the same summer as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
What it’s about: Ten-year-old Sam Gribley can’t stand the city and his crowded apartment (mom, dad and eight siblings) in New York one moment longer and so he runs away to an old family property in the Catskill Mountains. He uses lots of knowledge, a knife, an axe, and some string, and ends up building a home for himself.
Age level: Grades 4-6
Best part: I absolutely loved the way that Sam made the most of his surroundings. He interacted with nature in a most admirable way, using every part of each animal that he trapped and not striking out at any of them in fear or anger. He tried new things and was very brave. I also enjoyed his relationships with the various adults and children he met while in the wild.
Worst part: This book would have been a total “Buy” for me except for the last two pages, where Sam’s parents ruin everything. Though he has been successful in the wild for just almost a year, his parents come and despoil the peaceful natural surroundings just because of what they think other people *might* think about them (not that those people wouldn’t have already been thinking it for the past year!).
This book was a pleasure to read. It was so different and yet strangely still similar to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, with children who run away from home, two to the city and one to the woods. It was strange to feel like Sam was safer in the forest than Claudia and Jamie were in New York City. But with a lovely falcon and a surly badger as friends, Sam was quite well taken care of!
I am very excited to finally be reading a book by Avi. I probably wouldn’t have chosen a book with an ocean voyage but I’m in the mood for a historical fiction and I hear his are great!