As far as I am concerned Jean Craighead George is a national treasure! She has inspired a love of the natural world in thousands of children over the years with her beautiful stories. Probably best known for her books My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves, Jean has written over 100 books on about the environment and its inhabitants. Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Jean at the AAAS Annual Meeting where she received the SB&F Prize Lifetime Achievement Award for her distinguished and lasting contributions to children’s science literature. She was so lovely in person and her passion and enthusiasm for writing about nature was palpable. Although she may move a little slower, Jean shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to writing. Recently SB&F reviewed her latest book, Pocket Guide to the Outdoors: Based on My Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 2009). This book, co-written with her children Twig, John and Luke, is delightful. Here’s what our SB&F reviewer had to say about the book:
Wow! Reading this newest book by someone who influenced my life so deeply was a joy, taking me back nearly 40 years to a time when everything seemed possible to a boy growing up in the Midwest. Yes, I'm one of the millions of kids who read Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain right at the time that I was beginning to wonder just where I fit into the world of adults, into nature, and into the world in general. As I read her new Pocket Guide to the Outdoors, the short passages from My Side flashed me back to that 12-year-old boy. Seriously, I remembered reading the same words on a school bus or under the covers with a flashlight. These were major memories. My kids read My Side of the Mountain, too, and now we're passing the Pocket Guide around. It's terrific—how to make shelters and fire; identifying and cooking edible plants; simple fishing and trapping methods; telling birds by their calls—and everything is clear and realistic for young adults to attempt. Well, OK, probably not falconry, but it had to be included for us adults who dreamed of our own falcon best friend who found us food out of love. Pocket Guide to the Outdoors has great illustrations, is very readable, and even has a cover that will resist weather and wear. The best thing I can say about this book is that you need it. For classrooms, libraries, or home—you need it. Just as you needed Jean Craighead George when you were 12.
I was excited to recently learn that Jean’s next book is due out in a few weeks. I eagerly await my review copy of The Buffalo Are Back (Dutton, 2010). In this book Jean tells the dramatic story of the return of the American bison to the Great Plains. Illustrated by Wendell Minor (as was Jean’s book, The Wolves Are Back), this new book is appears to have everything that makes a Jean Craighead George book so special. Look for a review of The Buffalo Are Back in the May issue of SB&F Online.
And in case you haven’t listened to it yet, here’s a link to the AAAS Booktalks interview with Jean recorded last year at the AAAS Annual Meeting. Enjoy!
2 Mar 2010 2:01 PM