My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George (an essay)

My Side of the Mountain is an adventure story by Jean Craighead George. It is the story of Sam Gribley, a boy who runs away from home and spends a year living alone in the forest. He learns to live off the land and meets several friends while he is away.

Sam’s story takes place in the Catskill Mountains near a town called Delhi in the state of New York. Sam’s large family lives in New York City, but Sam ran away because the city was too crowded for him. He went to the Catskills because his great grandfather Gribley had land there. Sam picks a place in the woods that has food and water nearby, and makes a house out of a trunk of a tree. This is the place where Sam spends his time in the forest.

Sam meets several characters while living on the mountain. Some of Sam’s friends are animals. His best friend on the mountain is Frightful, a falcon that he trained as a baby. Frightful helps him hunt and he finds comfort in her presence. He also enjoys watching and playing with Jessie Coon James, a mischievous raccoon, and The Baron Weasel, a riotous weasel. Several humans find Sam also. Bando is a teacher who gets lost and ends up staying with Sam for a week. Tom, a school boy, Aaron, a tourist, Matt, a reporter, and Sam’s father also visit Sam on the mountain.

Sam liked these companions, but his goal was to live independently off the land. In the beginning, he makes mistakes, but he learns from them. At first, he couldn’t start a fire and slept in the wind, but soon he learns how to make on and makes a shelter to sleep in. He learns to fish and forage for berries and greens. He builds traps and trains Frightful to hunt for him. He stores food and makes warm clothing for survival in the winter. When spring comes, he is happy and healthy, and has achieved his goal.

Here ends a wonderful adventure story that I would recommend to others. Sam is joyful and carefree and a hard worker. He works well with the environment, so he is a good role model. I liked that he and Frightful do things I wouldn’t expect. Kids who like the environment, animals, and adventure might like this book.

Calvin Ophoff