‘ I am on my mountain in a tree home that people have passed without ever knowing that I am here. The house is a hemlock tree six feet in diameter, and must be as old as the mountain itself. I came upon it last summer and dug and burned it out until I made a snug cave in the tree that I now call home. ‘
Like most boys there where times when I wanted to escape; to be self sufficient, independent, heroic. I wanted a pet falcon, to live in a hollow tree, to earn the respect of my parents with my skill and sense of responsibility. Like many boys I realized some of those yearnings vicariously by reading My Side of the Mountain.
Jean Craighead George authored the story of Sam Gribley and his falcon Frightful just over fifty years ago. 8 million copies and 12 translations later My Side of the Mountain has established itself as a classic of children’s literature. George writes from her experiences growing up in a family who spent much of their time outside and were some of the first falconers in the United States.
The story of Sam Gribley’s adventures in the woods became a trilogy of books (My Side of the Mountain / On the Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful’s Mountain). Sam’s learns how to survive and makes an existence for himself using woodcraft skills. Some of the skills are represented accurately, some are a bit fictionalized, some are outdated. But My side of the Mountain is not a an instructional manual. The story has sparked the imagination of a generation and kindled the aspiration to learn about and experience the natural world.
What I found most compelling is the idea of nature as a retreat, an escape, a sanctuary of reality and experience unfiltered by technology; an important idea in a world increasingly isolated from experiencing life on its most basic terms. My side of the Mountain maintains a vision of ourselves in the natural world especially accessible to young people; one that will stir their imagination and encourage them to experience the challenge and freedom of life in the outdoors.
My Side of the Mountain Trilogy at Amazon