Jean Craighead George was the preeminent nature writer for children. She is the author of My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves, and her work spanned 50 years. She died in May 2012 at age 93.
In PW 's words, ``Fans of My Side of the Mountain will be delighted to find that Sam Gribley still lives in a hollow tree with Frightful, his faithful falcon. Filled with accurate details, likeable characters and plenty of backwoods lore, this sequel is worthy of its predecessor.'' Ages 8-12. (Aug.)
Gr 4-6-- More than 30 years later, the story of Sam Gribley is resumed shortly after it ended in My Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 1988) . When Frightful, the falcon, is confiscated and Sam's sister Alice disappears, Sam and his friend Bando look for her. In their search, they uncover a ring of illegal falcon dealers and come to terms with their limits and responsibilities as individual humans within the larger society of all mountain dwellers. Using a straightforward, first-person narrative and journal entries, George effectively evokes the natural setting with which she is obviously familiar. She also takes great care to describe the devices Sam and Alice construct to make their serene yet rugged life easier. These contraptions are complicated, but are clarified by black-and-white sketches. Sam remains the focus of the novel, but characters are abundant in contrast to his earlier solitary lifestyle. Unfortunately, they play mainly as a catalyst for Sam's actions and development. While their presence injects a note of reality, it also underscores the incredibility of the story, for the more contact Sam has with civilization, the more remarkable his living situation becomes. The plot is considerably more complicated than in the first book, and current issues are raised, but the timelessness of theme and setting is carried over from the original. The contrivance of the black-market bird dealer may serve as a device to engage readers' interest, but the strength of the story lies in Sam's personal observations and growth. This volume can be enjoyed without the background laid in the first book, and it will inspire many readers to investigate the beginning of Sam's story. --Starr LaTronica, North Berkeley Library, CA