Frightful's Mountain

by Jean Craighead George

Readers first met Sam Gribley in the Newbery Honor Book My Side of the Mountain... read more

Readers first met Sam Gribley in the Newbery Honor Book My Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 1959). They met him again along with his sister Alice in a sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 1990). In that novel, Sam’s peregrine falcon Frightful was confiscated by an environmental conservation officer because he wasn’t old enough to keep the bird in captivity. In this final novel in what has become a trilogy, readers once again are confronted with the specter of organized thievery causing falcons in the wild to be captured and sold. Without personifying Frightful and the other wildlife about which her fast-paced novel focuses, George details one peregrine’s attempts to survive without human intervention midst the dangers and predators of nature and civilization. She again develops an exciting plot based upon her trademark knowledge of and respect for nature. The plot involves dedicated falconers versus ruthless thieves, along with environmental advocacy versus utility company policies and practices. Realistically presented youthful activism and a bit of Sam’s help save Frightful as much as she saves herself. The novel is set in the Catskills, not far from and sometimes in Sam’s self-made, self-sufficient environment. The information about peregrine falcons so adeptly woven into the story is true to fact. The mountains are real, some of the characters are based on actual falconers and experts, and the political scenario and the relentlessly conducted bridge maintenance within the novel actually took place. As central as the bridge becomes to Frightful and her survival, the bridge itself and Frightful herself are products of the author’s imagination. (Ages 9-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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