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Cliff Hanger Hardcover – May 14, 2002

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

George offers an up-close, nail-bitingly dramatic look at the sport of rock-climbing in this picture book adventure, but her unlikely plot scuttles the outing. Young Axel's dog, Grits, is stranded on a mountain ledge as a thunderstorm approaches. Under the supervision of his father, the leader of the climbing school, Axel braves the elements to rescue his pet. George has the lingo down pat, and infuses the tale with tension but therein lies the problem. Dag, Axel's father, calls a halt to the climb, but Axel goes ahead anyway (Dag had no choice, George ventures rather limply. His son was climbing). Axel reaches the dog just in time (Crackling electricity lifted the hair straight up on Axel's head and arms.... Sparks snapped from his ears to the rocks), but he faces even graver danger on his descent (No nut, carabiner, or rope was there to save him if he made a mistake). It's hard to imagine any adult allowing a child to risk his life in this manner, no matter how beloved the pet, and, in a picture book, this behavior seems implausible at best. Minor serves up a series of realistic action shots that capture the athleticism of the sport but are not always believable most notably, the picture showing the crackling electricity presents the boy and dog as relaxed and smiling even as the sparks fly. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-With help from his father, who runs a mountain-climbing school, and under pressure to beat a rapidly approaching lightning storm, Axel climbs a sheer cliff to rescue his stranded dog. George expertly weaves in many details about mountain climbing, safety, and the nature of storms without compromising the suspense of the story line. Unfamiliar words (carabiner, rappel) are made clear in context and illustrations, without wordy definitions. The realistic art advances the tension and effectively reveals Axel's prowess as a climber. After the dog is lowered from its perch by a rope and harness, the boy must make his way back down. He runs short of rope and must descend the final segment of the rock face in a free climb. Both father and son are relieved when he reaches the ground safely. This is an especially good read for adventure-loving, active, outdoor kids, or for anyone who just loves a good story.
Dorian Chong, San Jose State University, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 4
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (May 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060002603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060002602
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jean Craighead George was born in a family of naturalists. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were students of nature. On weekends they camped in the woods near their Washington, D.C. home, climbed trees to study owls, gathered edible plants and made fish hooks from twigs. Her first pet was a turkey vulture. In third grade she began writing and hasn't stopped yet. She has written over 100 books.Her book, Julie of the Wolves won the prestigious Newbery Medal, the American Library Association's award for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children, l973. My Side of the Mountain, the story of a boy and a falcon surviving on a mountain together, was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book. She has also received 20 other awards.She attended Penn State University graduating with a degree in Science and Literature. In the 1940s she was a reporter for The Washington Post and a member of the White House Press Corps. After her children were born she returned to her love of nature and brought owls, robins, mink, sea gulls, tarantulas - 173 wild animals into their home and backyard. These became characters in her books and, although always free to go, they would stay with the family until the sun changed their behavior and they migrated or went off to seek partners of their own kind.When her children, Twig, Craig and Luke, were old enough to carry their own backpacks, they all went to the animals. They climbed mountains, canoed rivers, hiked deserts. Her children learned about nature and Jean came home and to write books. Craig and Luke are now environmental scientists and Twig writes children's books, too.One summer Jean learned that the wolves were friendly, lived in a well-run society and communicated with each other in wolf talk -- sound, sight, posture, scent and coloration. Excited to learn more, she took Luke and went to the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory in Barrow, Alaska, where scientists were studying this remarkable animal. She even talked to the wolves in their own language. With that Julie of the Wolves was born. A little girl walking on the vast lonesome tundra outside Barrow, and a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park were the inspiration for the characters in the book. Years later, after many requests from her readers, she wrote the sequels, Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack.She is still traveling and coming home to write. In the last decade she has added two beautiful new dimensions to her words beautiful full-color picture book art by Wendell Minor and others and - music. Jean is collaborating with award-winning composer, Chris Kubie to bring the sounds of nature to her words.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an exciting, well written, story that has been a highly successful Read Aloud to present to groups of K-4 students. The parts of the story where the main character child rock climbs to save his dog during a lightening storm provide adults with wonderful "teachable moments", I always ask my studetns why it is dangerous to be the highest point in electrical storms, many students aren't even aware of the fact that "Electricity strikes the highest point", and it could be an interesting way to introduce a unit on weather, storms or electricity. We also discuss how the main character could have avoided putting himself and his pet in such a dangerous situation, (by keeping a better eye on his dog instead of allowing it to walk off with strangers). I do not think this book makes dangerous situations seem "cool" it makes them seem really dangerous. I definitely think this is a fantastic book for kids and does not have a bad influence on them if you present it in the appropriate manner.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Isabel Harding on May 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
CLIFF HANGER is yet another remarkable picture book from the creative team of Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor. Ms. George is a naturalist and Newbery Medal-winning author who has been captivating children with her 80+ nature stories, like JULIE OF THE WOLVES and MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, for the past 54 years. Mr. Minor is a one-of-a-kind artist who has created the covers for more than 2,000 works ranging from many different genres, and has illustrated many captivating picture books about animals and the wilderness. The two have collaborated on a number of books, including EVERGLADES, a beautiful story about conserving an important environment, ARCTIC SON, about a young boy's life on the tundra near Barrow, Alaska, and MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHT, describing the daily activities of wildlife extending from the East Coast to the West. Each book is written with a lyrical, absorbing text, with outstanding watercolor paintings depicting the words. CLIFF HANGER is the first in a series of adventure books for young readers (supposedly the age range is from 5-9, but I think this distinguished story would be appropriate for any age). In it, we are drawn into a world of rocky cliffs, majestic peaks and dramatic skies--the Teton Mountains of Wyoming. A storm is drawing near, filling the sky with ominous clouds, fierce lightning, and deep thunder. A boy, Axel, is upset to learn that his dog, Grits, is at the top of Cathedral Wall, a towering rock in the middle of the bad storm. Determined to rescue him before it's too late, Axel and his father hurry over to the huge cliff with their rock-climbing gear. Bravely Axel starts up the sheer, treacherous cliff. Will he make it to the top and be able to save Grits in time? The peril of Axel's climb and his descent are wonderfully captured by Mr.Read more ›
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By spanakopita NJ VINE VOICE on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We found this in the library. My 6 year old loves climbing. We have been reading it again and again. Great story, very suspenseful. The technical details are interesting and accurate. We already read Julie of the Wolves and no idea that it was the same author! I hope this is reprinted. Will look for more books by author.
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