Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

My Side of the Mountain

41GI0OcvOZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_OVERALL: 4.0 4.0 Stars

Bridget’s Rating: 4.5 4.5 Stars

Concept:5.0 Stars
Characters:4.0 Stars
Plot:3.5 Stars
Writing:4.5 Stars

 

Jean Craighead George
N/A
1959
Puffin
177

 

Description: A young boy, Sam Gribley, who lives in a small New York apartment with his very large family decides he wants leave and go live on a farm abandoned by his Great Grandfather in the Catskills Mountains. So armed with $40, some flint and steel, a pen knife, an ax and some cord he sets off.  The book follows his trials and tribulations as he tries to survive in the wilderness.

Concept: What kid hasn’t dreamed of running away to a different place, be it the country or the city or down to the beach? In this book kids can live vicariously through Sam as he solves the very real problems of living by himself in the wild and the emotions he goes through being alone for extended periods of time.

Characters: Sam is a very level headed boy with a can do attitude. He is very much a product of the 1950s and I think it is interesting to note the differences between him and the kids of today. I also found the other characters in the book a nice break from Sam’s solitude and I especially liked Sam’s Dad although I can’t imagine a father acting like that today!

Plot: This is the book’s greatest weakness and it would have benefited from ending a bit earlier.  The last quarter of the book is a bit drawn out and I found myself starting to lose interest. My 8yr old also her struggled her way through the end of the book, which is a shame as the beginning is fabulous and it would have been great to have that feeling all the way through. The ending is also a bit disappointing, more so for how it was presented, rather than the ending itself. Had it not been for the last quarter of the book, I would have given the book 4.5 stars.

Writing: I like the fact that this book, because of its age, has a different writing style than modern books today. It’s good for kids to see that there are different ways to get a message across. This book is well written and interesting and that’s why it has stood the test of time.

PARENTS:
This is a good book for your younger, competent readers. My daughter loved the concept of Sam running away to the forest by himself and its great for kids to read a book about a truly ordinary boy, fending for himself where nothing blows up and Earth isn’t threatened – and still enjoy it. Don’t worry if you child struggles to finish it, or doesn’t finish it. The main ideas are in the beginning of the book and your child can still get a lot out of it without finishing it. As mentioned earlier, the end can be a bit slow.

Things to ask and discuss:

1) Discuss with your child whether they think they could do what Sam did. Where would they go? How would they go about it?

2) Talk about what the greatest challenge for Sam actually was – finding food, being alone or finding shelter.

3) How do you think Sam really felt when his family came to join him at the end of the novel? Was he happy or slightly upset to give up his independence.

Come on comment, you know you wanna.

Book Reviews and Writer