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Julie of the Wolves (HarperClassics) Paperback – January 5, 2016
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From the Publisher
Jean Craighead George's Newbery acceptance speech
In Mount McKinley National Park we found Gordon Haber cutting wood beside his cabin at Sanctuary River. Jays sang around him, and ground squirrels watched him, for Gordon was part of the ecology. He had spent three summers with the wolves and was preparing for his second winter. When I explained that I was in Alaska to write about wolves, he took Luke and me to watch a pack at their summer den.
For ten days we lay on our bellies, peering through a spotting scope and binoculars at these remarkable beasts. We saw the black alpha awaken, saw his pack nuzzle him under the chin ceremoniously, heard him open the hunt song with a solo. When all were alert, he would swing through the willows, his huntsmen at his heels, to test their crop of moose and caribou for harvesting. We never witnessed a kill, but we saw the ravens hover over kills and the hunters return home as fat as barrels to regurgitate food for their pups. We watched the puppies play bone ball, tug o’war, 'jump on the babysitter'; and we became wholly involved in wolves. Luke, who had come to Alaska to fish, never strung up his rod again.
One dawn we joined Haber on a trip to the deserted nursery den of his pack. We hiked through bog, sphagnum moss, and over the tundra to a remote valley. Pushing our way through tangled willows, we climbed to a bluff high above the river. There in a layer of white sand was the birthing den, a generous tunnel dug into the earth. It was topped with flowers and set beneath a small garden of twisted spruce. The entire home expressed family love. A play yard was worn in front of the den. Around it were the large saucer-like beds of adults. I could envision them watching the tumbling pups, grins on their faces.
Most heartwarming, however, was a shaft that led straight down to the nursery chamber. It was a sort of telephone. During the first few weeks after birthing when the female remains in the den with the pups, the other adults stand over this hole and listen to the sounds from the den below: whimpers, sucking sounds, the contented grunts of happy puppies. When an adult wags his tail, he says, “all is well”; and the other wolves wag their tails, too.
Just before leaving the den site, I sat down beside the entrance and scanned the wide valley. I wanted to see the rocks and mountains as the wolf sees them. I looked down, and my blood turned to ice. There below was an enormous grizzly, head down, fur swinging as he came down our trail. Instinct warned me to stand still, but reason told Gordon to act. He wanted us ahead of the bear so that we would not meet him face to face when he turned around to go home. “Run!” Haber said. Luke shot off like a prong-horn antelope; Gordon like a deer. I ran as if I were weighted down with lead, but I must have been zooming. As I leaped down a frost heave, I passed a jay in flight.
When we were safely ahead of the bear, we heard a wild sound as if an orchestra were tuning up. I looked back. On the top of the hill stood the female wolf and her nine fat puppies, who bounded forward to greet us. One yip from their mother, and all the pups vanished. If there was any doubt in my mind that wolves speak to each other, it was banished in that moment.
“The whole book has a rare, intense reality which the artist enhances beautifully with animated drawings.” (The Horn Book)
“Jean George has captured the subtle nuances of Eskimo life, animal habits, the pain of growing up, and combines these elements into a thrilling adventure which is, at the same time, a poignant love story.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“The evocatively written, empathetic story effectively evokes the nature of wolves and dramatizes how the traditional Eskimo way of life is giving way before the relentless onlaught of civilization.” (ALA Booklist)
“It is a book anyone who loves the outdoors will find hard to forget.” (Boston Globe)
“[Jean Craighead George’s] novel is packed with expert wolf lore, its narrative beautifully conveying the sweeping vastness of tundra as well as many other aspects of the Arctic, ancient and modern, animal and human. It is refreshing to see the Arctic well portrayed through a woman’s eyes.” (New York Times)
“Similar to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Julie of the Wolves is a story about survival.” (from the article “15 Banned Books Every Tween and Teen Should Read”) (Brightly)
From the Back Cover
To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When the village is no longer safe for her, Miyax runs away. But she soon finds herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass to guide her.
Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, Mid she grows to love them as though they were family. With their help, and drawing on her father's teachings, Miyax struggles day by clay to survive. But the time comes when she must leave the wilderness and choose between the old ways an(] the new. Which will she choose? For she is Miyax of the Eskimos--but Julie of the Wolves.
Faced with the prospect of a disagreeable arranged marriage or a journey acoss the barren Alaskan tundra, 13-year-old Miyax chooses the tundra. She finds herself caught between the traditional Eskimo ways and the modern ways of the whites. Miyax, or Julie as her pen pal Amy calls her, sets out alone to visit Amy in San Francisco, a world far away from Eskimo culture and the frozen land of Alaska.
During her long and arduous journey, Miyax comes to appreciate the value of her Eskimo heritage, learns about herself, and wins the friednship of a pack of wolves. After learning the language of the wolves and slowly earning their trust, Julie becomes a member of the pack.
Since its first publication, Julie of The Wolves,winner of thr 1973 Newbery Medal, has found its way into the hearts of millions of readers.
Top customer reviews
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The main part of the story tells how Miyax learns to live in the wild, with a pack of wolves, by studying their ways and being accepted by them. If it weren't for the wolves, she would starve to death. Then Miyax learns that her father did not die, he married a white woman and has adopted non-Eskimo ways. Her father wants Miyax to come live with him, but he hunts wolves from a small aircraft, firing down on and killing them. Miyax cannot tolerate this and runs away again, determined to live on her own, in the wild. In the end, she realizes with great sadness that the days of Eskimos living off the land are gone forever, and she returns to her father.
The wilderness scenes with the wolves are wonderful, and Miyax is an empathetic hero. There's a lot going on in this book, plot-wise, and I'm not sure the resolution works, even though it is realistic. But this is a powerful story of a thirteen-year-old girl living on the edge of two different worlds, having to decide which one she will live in.
It's a little different than I remember, but it's still fabulous.
I never knew there were sequels (my son bought them for me, too) and I cannot wait to read them!