My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George
Published by Dutton
Copyright 1959, 1988
Sam Gribley is tired of being crowded. Crowded by living with his family of 11 people in a New York City apartment. So Sam decides that he is going to runaway and live off the land on the old Gribley farm in the Catskill Mountains. Sam uses many things that he learned in school and in books, and he learns many more things while in the wilderness, that help him survive for a year in the woods all by himself. Near the end though Sam begins to sense his own loneliness, having only occasional human visitors he speaks mainly to himself and the animals. So something has to give.
This is a wonderful story of survival that celebrates the beauty of quiet, uncrowded, wild spaces and the spirit of self-sufficiency which has been lost more and more since the writing of this book in 1959. This is a book that all young children should read to rekindle that spirit. Also the resolution to his conflict between his desire for wilderness and his loneliness is so simple, yet so perfect and pure. There are illustrations in this book which are hardly worth mentioning since they look mostly like chicken scratch. It is the story itself, not the illustrations, which are enduring. Absolutely loved this book and will probably read it again soon.