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The Tarantula in My Purse: and 172 Other Wild Pets Paperback – August 2, 1997


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (August 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064462013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064462013
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jean Craighead George deserves to be ranked among the great children's writers of our time. Of her previous books, Julie of the Wolves won a Newbery Medal and My Side of the Mountain is one of the most thrilling and engaging books ever written for kids. The Tarantula in My Purse is a memoir of sorts, telling the tales of the various animals that have passed through George's house, from "The Screech Owl Who Liked Television" to "The Goose and the Duck Who Were Arrested for Disturbing the Peace." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

What kind of mother keeps bats in the refrigerator, leaves the windows open so wild crows can fly into the house and doesn't flinch at tarantulas? A mother like Newbery Medalist George (Julie of the Wolves). In this true story about the orphaned animals her family raised and released (they had a permit for wild animal care), she uses her novelist's skill and humor in recounting the escapades of Crowbar, the clever family crow; of Yammer, a screech owl who liked to watch Road Runner cartoons; and of Goose and Duck, who loved riding in the car so much that they once flew into a police cruiser (and got arrested for disturbing the peace). Following tales of domestic delight amid the menagerie of crawfish, boas, wolverines, raccoons, mice and falcons, an epilogue describes the animal-related careers George's grown children now have. It's a one-of-a-kind lesson in living with nature in a far more literal sense than most people ever would undertake, endearingly told. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a terrific for all ages!
J. McFarland
I think one can glean some lessons here on how to raise happy kids who respect nature and how to cultivate their curiosities into independent thinking.
Less High Fructose
Readers can truly enjoy this book if they read related stories like THE SUMMER OF THE FALCON, THE CRY OF THE CROW, and THERE'S AN OWL IN THE SHOWER.
Isabel Harding

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever taken a frog home that you found in the woods? I bet your mom told you to put it outside immediately. Well, if you went to the Georges' household, the setting of my story, that is all you would find! Tarantulas, crows, owls, fish, frogs, you name it and you will probably find it roaming freely in the house. Jean Craighead George, the mother and protagonist, was raised to love animals and keep them as her pets, so she brought up her three children the same way. You probably can't believe that someone would keep a skunk as a lovable pet, but they did!

The only animal you wouldn't hear about in their house was a bear! The Georges even had a pond, as real as one outside, in their house built by their neighbor who worked with cement. Read this book and find out why all the fish in their pond start dying. Find out why they had to get rid of a crow as viscous as a hunting dog, or how they found a baby bird as small as a cotton ball that could fit in a teacup. It is all in the amazing and funny book The Tarantula in My Purse. I learned a lot of interesting facts from this book, and other times I couldn't stop laughing. This book was absolutely terrific and fun to read!

I thought this book was amazing! The people in my story instinctively kept wild animals as pets! Even when you had to get a special permit, they got one. I think it is hard enough having just a dog as a pet. I could hardly imagine acquiring so many wild pets and having to research exactly what they need. What amazes me is that it wasn't just their mother that did all the work and research, it was the kids too! They helped out, and researched and cleaned up after their animals. The children would never, not do something because it was too messy or they were afraid.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is about kids and a mother who take home wild pets. Every chapter has at least one different pet. This realistic story teaches you about animals. The animals do funny things. For example, there is a duck with an arrest record. In another chapter, a crow acts like he can talk. I am an eight year old who loves to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Tarantula in My Purse offered a personal look at the many wondrous wild animals who have passed through the life of the George family. It gave students a glimpse of the respect and knowledge needed to properly care for a wild animal that will, ultimately, decide to what degree it will be "domesticated." The chapters are brief and to the point which facilitates the interest of young children while still teaching the many adaptations and often times humorous behaviors of wild animals. Thanks, Jean, for broadening our understanding of wild life and for letting so many students into your personal life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Isabel Harding on February 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
All of Jean Craighead George's great nature books come from experience (she spoke with wolves, had a falcon, has seen the most magnificent places in our country) but this is the one that is entirely autobiographical (she did write an autobiography but it is out of print). Stories charming, hilarious, gross, and heartwarming grace the pages of this unputdownable book. Readers can truly enjoy this book if they read related stories like THE SUMMER OF THE FALCON, THE CRY OF THE CROW, and THERE'S AN OWL IN THE SHOWER. All will smile at the true-life details that contribute to those tales. While most of the nature takes place indoors, nature lovers will still learn further about birds, mammals, and insects. This is a truly enjoyable book for any animal lover and Jean Craighead George fan.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. McFarland on September 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you think a fox can't be trained to use a litter box, if you think a frog can't step in and be a substitute for a vacuum cleaner and if you think crows are dumb, this charming book of real-life adventures stemming from having "wild" animals and birds (and bugs) as pets will set you straight. George grew up with more than a dog and a cat for her friends and she raised her three children in the same way. So what if a clutch of ducklings needs the bathtub for a feeding and living ground for a week or so! So what if your weasel has to be worn out with exercise before he can be fed! No zany inconvenience seemed to stop this family's adventures with real wild things. The fun they've had and relationships they've built with their pets/friends will make you envious as you laugh and marvel at the tales. And the stories about two of their crows, North and Crowbar, will simply stun you with how ingenious and devious (in the clever banker sense) they were. And don't think they didn't have skunks for pets either! This is a terrific for all ages!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Less High Fructose on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
While the target audience is kids, this book is really fun reading for all ages. Not many families would dare to take in the pets that the George family did, including a skunk with its stinker gland (not the technical term, sorry), nor is it really advisable. But the George family was knowledgable about wildlife biology and knew how to take care of the animals they took in. I was surprised to find that almost every story taught me something new about animal behavior and intelligence. Reading the story may make you or your kids want to find wild pets, but imbued in each story is also a lesson in how much responsibility it takes as well. What I enjoyed the most, though, is the autobiographical nature of this book that gives a picture of an impressive family. The 3 kids had childhoods that were full of adventure, affection, and education. They have all grown up to be impressive and accomplished adults. I think one can glean some lessons here on how to raise happy kids who respect nature and how to cultivate their curiosities into independent thinking. I'm an adult now, but reading this book makes me want to be a kid rediscovering the natural world again.
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