Customer Reviews: Julie of the Wolves
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on June 5, 2007
My 8 year old daughter was given this book to read by her 3rd grade teacher. She was really enjoying the book up until the end of Part II, right before she the main character runs away from her husband (they are 13 years old and it is an arranged marriage) and joins the wolves. I hadn't read the book and was somewhat shocked when she came to me and asked me to read one page to her and explain what was happening. It was the part where her husband Daniel forces himself on her because his friends around town were teasing him that he was "..dumb Daniel. He has a wife and he can't mate her." He proceeds to "press his lips against her mouth", she pulls away and he tears her dress from her shoulder, takes her down to the floor, and "crushes her with his body". Then "the room spun, and grew blurry. Daniel cursed, kicked violently, and lay still." Then he gets up and runs out of the house and yells out "Tomorrow, tomorrow I can, can, can, ha, ha," he bleated piteously. She vomits and then moves into action and leaves him.

Now, I have talked with my daughter about how babies are made, ie. mating, but this was a little different and it brought up a whole other conversation. I know the book is a Newberry Award winner and a very well-written book that most children enjoy, I just wish I had known about this part. The publisher marks the book as ages 10 and up but that is still a young age to have that particular situation explained. And maybe some children would read right past it and not really catch what actually happened but parents might want to know about that so they can be prepared for what to say if their child comes and asks what happened on page 102! I wish I had known about it! Hope this helps if you're deciding whether or not to buy this book for your young daughter.
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on April 19, 2000
Julie, an Inuit Eskimo from Alaska, is born with the name Miyax. Because her mother dies when Miyax is barely four years old, Miyax's father, Kapugen, brings her up in the traditional Eskimo ways and teaches her a life of co-existence with the natural world. When Miyax is nine years old, her Aunt takes her away from her father because Julie is suppose to go to school. There she is around Americanized Eskimos, who call her Julie, and she starts to believe that she has lived a strange life with her father in the Alaskan wilderness. At thirteen, Julie finds herself in a bad situation and attempts to run away to San Francisco where her pen pal lives. Even though Julie is running away from her Eskimo upbringing, she winds up depending on the ways of her people. Out in the wilderness, she learns a lot about who she is. This book is about discovery and acceptance as Julie defines herself through her own culture and becomes Miyax again. Jean Craighead George interprets a particular culture, Inuit Eskimo, and defines it throughout the story. Julie, as a young girl, learns the importance of her culture and the process of identifying herself within it. However, Julie, as an adolescent, rebels against her culture because it has become out-of-date and is considered old fashion to live as the traditional Eskimo's once did. Julie learns from the American Eskimo kids about the modern world and about a life that is much different than what she is used to. Julie also has a pen pal who lives in San Francisco who has been sending Julie pictures of her home and telling her about strange and beautiful things that Julie wants to see. She begins to believe that the way she was brought up was, indeed, very strange and therefore not the way that she wants to live anymore. However, on her quest to live in San Francisco, Julie finds herself lost and she has nothing but herself and the wilderness to keep her alive. Drawing on her Inupiat Eskimo upbringing and believing in the Eskimo ways of intelligence, fearlessness, and love, Julie learns to see her people's ways as the way she wants to live. Julie becomes Miyax again, and talks to the wolves, as her father taught her, and gains their trust so that they help her to survive. Julie realizes that she doesn't want to live in San Francisco with all their modern ways and searches to find a traditional Eskimo settlement. Miyax discovers that her father is alive and that he was the man in the helicopter who killed Amaroq, the dominant wolf, for sport. At first when Miyax came across the Eskimo settlement, that her father is living at, she is excited to go back to her heritage. However, she discovers that he is living with a Gussak, an American Eskimo, and that he is no longer living the life of a traditional Eskimo but has become Americanized, and she learns the truth about the man who killed Amaroq. Miyax feels betrayed and leaves her father's home, only to realize that she has no other choice but to live as the people of the Eskimo Settlement do. I believe that Jean Craighead George does a fantastic job of portraying a young girl who is trying to find herself and in doing so, Julie explores her culture and is able to define herself within it. Julie figures out what she really wants and why because of this. In the beginning of the book, Julie is running away from her upbringing and running toward a modern new world. Julie chooses, in the end, to embrace her traditional upbringing and finds peace within herself and an acceptance of herself that she so needs. An acceptance that is so strong that even the thought of living in a village that desecrates many of the thinks Inuit Eskimos believe in, she is still strong enough to know who she is inside and decides to live with her father. Living as an Americanized Eskimo cannot brake down her beliefs or take away her true heritage, which she has gained strength from and a sense of herself.
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VINE VOICEon June 7, 2007
Miyax, an Eskimo girl who is called Julie in English, is fourteen and has run away from her arranged marriage. She has a pen pal in San Francisco and she thinks if she can just hike to a nearby town with an airport, she will be able to get to her friend. Before her father left on a fishing trip and never came back, he was a great hunter and could survive in the wilderness, and he had taught Miyax much about survival. She thought everything would be fine.

But then, on her way to the airport, Miyax gets lost in the Alaskan wilderness. Her food supply runs low, and she knows that the harsh winter is coming upon her fast. Near where she is camped is a pack of wolves--four adults and five pups. Miyax knows that wolves take care of each other and if she can just get herself accepted into their pack, they will make sure she has enough food to survive. So she begins studying the way they interact and speak to each other, until she is ready to try imitating them.

I liked the descriptions of the wolves and the ways they interacted. I thought it was interesting to read about their body language and communication. I didn't like the ending of this book, though. After going through so much and being so strong, it seemed like at the end Miyax was defeated.
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on March 25, 2004
This book was great. It's about a young 13-year-old Eskimo girl, called Miyax, who is married to a boy called Daniel and lives with his parents. Miyax then runs away from Daniel and his family, because of the way she was treated. She plans to work her way to San Francisco, where she would live with her pen pal, but she then finds herself lost in a large tundra and depends on wolves to live. By observing a pack she found how to communicate with the wolves and...
One of my reasons why I liked this book is, it's so descriptive. You can easily picture the characters and their surroundings just by reading a few sentences. Such as this quote, "Her face was pearl-round and her nose was flat. Her black eyes, which slanted gracefully, were moist and sparkling."
Another reason why I like this book is, it gives me an idea of how the environment of Alaska is, and how the old, traditional culture of the Eskimos was like. I also like how the book described the relationship between people, and the nature around them, and how they learned how to survive in the wilderness just by observing animals- how to hunt, where to find food, and how to defend yourself against another predator. This quote describes what I mean, "Next she noted that the grasses grew in different spota than the mosses, and the more she studied, the more the face of the tundra emerged; a face that could tell her which way was north, if she had listened more carefully to Kapugen."
My most favorite part of this book was when Miyax begins playing with the puppies of the pack, Zing, Zit, Sister, and Kapu. This reminds me of how enjoyable life can be with friends and family.
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on September 4, 2003
Julie Of The Wolves,a short series Alaskan adventures by Jean Craighead George.You would really like this first book if you like adventure that unravels from present to the past.Julie also known by Miyax her Eskimo name runs away when she finds a sitiuation that is intolerable.She trys to catch a ride to San Francisco in another part of Alaska only to be lost without food,or a compass.Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Artic Wolves,and she comes to love them as though they were her brothers.With their help,and drawing on her father's training,she struggles day by day to survive.I really thought Kapu one of the pups soon to be a leader was cute,and charming and that's why he is my favorite.Well to find out more about Julie Of The Wolves then go and pickup a copy of Julie Of the Wolves NOW!
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on March 21, 2002
...By Wang
...Jean ... She got the idea for this book after she saw a girl walking alone in the tundra to visit a faraway friend. Her other inspiration was a regal alpha male wolf in the Denali National Park. ...
The story begins in the freezing artic winter. Miyax, a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl, is alone on the tundra-covered North Slope of Alaska. She has spent several days without much nourishment. Now she has turned to a pack of wolves. She is hoping to learn to communicate with them. Then, hopefully, the pack will give her food from their hunt. So far, her attempts have been hopeless. But, if her father, Kapugen had once done it, so could she.
Miyax had been watching the pack for days. She was Eskimo. Eskimos, like other Native Americans, had great respect for nature. Although Miyax sometimes believed the old Eskimo traditions were a little silly, she did love nature. ... The alpha male, or leader of the pack, was Amaroq, the Eskimo word for wolf. His mate was the beautiful Silver. Amaroq's friend was Nails. ...There was also another who didn't stick with the rest of the pack as much: Jello. He was small and quite wiggly.

Reading Julie of the Wolves was like going on an epic adventure through the artic tundra. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give this book an eleven. It's not at all surprising that Jean Craighead George won a Newbery Medal for this book. I liked it when Miyax communicated to the wolves. ... I recommend that anyone who enjoys nature read Julie of the Wolves!
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on June 28, 2013
{Spoiler Alert} My three stars is meant as a respectable score, but with quite a lot left to be desired.

I read the book myself before reading it to my 8-year-old daughter and I must admit the pages kept turning. However, don't be misled into thinking this is a "cute" story about a girl and some friendly wolves. There are genuinely endearing scenes of friendship between Julie and her wolf companions, but the overall tone of the book is bleak. It accurately depicts the brutality of life in the wilds of Alaska as well as the squalor created by the awkward mixing of American and 'Eskimo' cultures (oil drums and trash perpetually preserved by the Arctic cold are a frequent touchstone). As with most books I read to my 8-year-old, I am looking for teachable moments and opportunities for me to communicate my values to my children through the words of the book. There were lots of good opportunities as well as some things I had to circle back and 'fix' outside the text.

On the science front, there was a lot of attention paid to animal behavior, especially wolf. Because I am a physicist I cannot comment on the accuracy of those parts, but I hope at least some of it is real because it is quite detailed in its descriptions and it would be a waste if those parts are not faithful to reality. However, on the parts that a physicist can comment on, there are some things left to be desired. For example, one of the main premises of the book is that Miyax (Julie) is stranded on the Alaskan tundra somewhere on the North Slope, having lost her bearing and unable to recover it because the North Star is obscured by the midnight sun of the Arctic summer. However, even the northernmost point of Alaska is still 20 degrees of latitude away from the pole and as such the sun's elevation in the sky would vary considerably during the course of the 24 hours of the day. For a girl trained her whole life in the ways of Arctic outdoor life not to know that the sun is at its highest in the Southern sky and at its lowest in the Northern sky isn't feasible. There is another passage where it is daytime in the winter and in the book says that the 'Southern Constellations blazed above her in the sky'. This is incorrect and likely a confusion with the fact that the summer constellations could be seen in winter because of the sun being below the horizon. In any case, it caused a few breaks in the reading when I had to explain that there were defects in the story. I don't regret that because it led her to ask about the other elements (like the animal behavior) and whether they were correct or not, to which I had to say "I don't know". It turned out to be a useful lesson in critical thinking.

The story contained some challenging passages, including a scene in which Miyax/Julie is sexually assaulted at age 13 by her arranged-marriage husband. After which she leaves home. While I don't think my daughter figured out what really happened (I'm not sure *I* figured out what really happened!), it was an opportunity for me to reinforce the idea that it is not wise to remain in an environment where someone is hurting you.

One of the central themes of the book relates to killing generally and I felt that in most regards it presented a morally sound position through its exposition of killing in different contexts. With regard to hunting for food, it dealt with the food web and detailed instances of predation by animals and by Miyax/Julie while on the tundra. There it was represented as an ordinary and necessary part of life and depicted 'Eskimo' customs and rituals for honoring prey and prey species. It also showed wanton killing and the senselessness of it. However, the book winds up linking wanton killing with modern civilization in a way that didn't seem productive to me. While this linkage is understandable for the main character Julie/Miyax the "third person" voice of the book slips up a couple of times and implicitly concurs with Miyax/Julie's conclusion that every bolt, light switch, radio, and automobile is stained with blood. Another discontinuous element of character development is that we find out that Miyax's own father, who is revered throughout as the source of Eskimo wisdom and hailed as being rich in intelligence, love, and compassion, is the one who has killed her adopted wolf father, and appears in the book to have done it for fun. Interestingly in "Julie", the sequel to this book written over 20 years later, Craighead George seeks to redeem Julie's Father with a different explanation why he killed the wolf. But in the 1972 book Julie's solution is to retreat into the wild and live the life of an Eskimo alone-- I couldn't tell whether Craighead George's perspective is that of a Luddite or a Romantic. Perhaps she is manipulatively pandering to 13-year-old readers' high-strung emotions, or perhaps the unforeshadowed betrayal by Miyax/Julie's father is projected from Craighead George's own life into the book.

When I put down the book I felt compelled to tell my daughter that if there is ever something in danger that she cares deeply about, fleeing the people who's ignorance is causing the problem isn't going to protect the thing she cares about for very long. If you are prepared to tackle the issues that the book raises I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a growth experience for you and your child. My Daughter instinctively knew to notice light shed on the world and herself through the pages of a story. Now she is learning to notice the Author as well.
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on October 31, 2003
I found this to be a profoundly sad and moving story about culture, identity, survival, and "what truly matters" in life. I disagree with those who have said that if you're an animal lover, you won't like it. I am an animal lover, and I thought this was a profoundly pro-animal book. The wolves who befriend Julie and help her survive become her friends in the truest sense; the ending is sad and tragic *because* we have come to love the wolves with her. I think the book has a strong message about the importance of respecting and living in harmony with nature. Although I read this book many years ago, I still remember it, and I gave it to my animal-lover niece when she was about 11. She loved it, too.
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on December 4, 1999
Could you do it? Could you survive in the frozen waste of the Arctic tundra? That is exactly what Miyax must do after escaping a terrible marriage and running away into nowhere. To her Acrtic village she is Miyax, to her Californian friend, she is Julie. After building a hut on a frost heave, she has no food, only matches, her knife, and a pack of wolves to guide her. After awhile, the wolves lead her to a point near her old village. Now she must make a decision, she can rejoin her village OR stay with the wolves. What should she do, for she is Miyax of the eskimos, but Julie of the wolves.
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on February 1, 2006
Imagine you are trapped on the Alaskan tundra with no food and a small amount of supplies. That's the adventure that awaits young Miyax, an Eskimo girl (Her American name is Julie).

In Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George (the author) creates vivid scenes and pictures with her innate writing skills. Miyax got trapped in a bad blizzard on her way to Point Hope, a small village on an Alaskan peninsula. She has no compass and no idea where to go. Since it is winter, the edible food for her is scarce and Miyax is growing hungry. She stays near a wolf pack, hoping that they will bring home an animal that they killed. Miyax might be able to share the meal with the wolves. Gradually, Miyax and the wolves befriend each other and Miyax is accepted into the pack. But as time passes on, the wolves show no signs of bringing home food. There are also dangers on the tundra and Miyax might not make it to Point Hope alive. To find out what happens to Miyax and the wolves read Julie of the Wolves.

There was an exciting moment in the story. Miyax was trying to talk to the leader of the wolf pack, Amaroq. Trying to tell him that she wanted to be part of the wolf pack. Amaroq looked at Miyax and did a sort of wolf ceremony. At that time, Miyax knew she had the wolves trust.

Jean Craighead George uses a lot of voice to describe scenes and events in the book. You can really picture the scenes in your mind. The author also uses sophisticated vocabulary, a nice flowing story (not choppy), and a lot of curveballs to make the story more interesting.

I would recommend this book to people in fifth and sixth grade. It would be a good book for people who like suspenseful and adventurous books. The book is not too long and it's easy to read. Out of a possible 5 I would give it a 4 and a half. Julie of the Wolves has also won a Newberry Medal. It was definitely a wonderful book.
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