George, Jean Craighead 1919–

views updated

George, Jean Craighead 1919–

(Jean George)


Born July 2, 1919, in Washington, DC; daughter of Frank Cooper (an entomologist) and Mary Carolyn (Johnson) Craighead; married John Lothar George January 28, 1944 (divorced, 1963); children: Carolyn Laura, John Craighead, Thomas Luke. Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.A., 1941; attended Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1941–42, and University of Michigan. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Painting; field trips to universities and laboratories of natural science, modern dance, white-water canoeing.


Home—Chappaqua, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022. E-mail[email protected].


Writer and journalist. International News Service, Washington, DC, reporter, 1941–43; Washington Post and Times-Herald, Washington, DC, reporter, 1943–46; Pageant magazine, New York, NY, artist, 1946–47; Newspaper Enterprise Association, New York, NY, artist and reporter, 1946–47; teacher in Chappaqua, NY, 1960–68; Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, NY, staff writer, 1969–74, roving editor, 1974–80.


PEN, League of Women Voters, Dutchess County Art Association.

Awards, Honors

Aurianne Award, American Library Association (ALA), 1956, for Dipper of Copper Creek; Newbery Honor Book, ALA, Notable Book citation, ALA, 1960, International Hans Christian Andersen Award honor list, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), 1962, Lewis Carroll Shelf citation, 1965, and George G. Stone Center for Children's Books Award, 1969, all for My Side of the Mountain; named Woman of the Year, Pennsylvania State University, 1968; Claremont College award, 1969; Eva L. Gordon Award, American Nature Study Society, 1970; Book World First Prize, 1971, for All upon a Stone; Newbery Medal, ALA, National Book Award finalist, American Association of Publishers, German Youth Literature Prize, West German section of IBBY, and Silver Skate, Netherlands Children's Book Board, all 1973, and one of ten best American children's books in two hundred years listing, Children's Literature Association, 1976, all for Julie of the Wolves; School Library Media Specialties of South Eastern New York Award, 1981; Irvin Kerlan Award, University of Minnesota, 1982; University of Southern Mississippi Award, 1986; Grumman Award, 1986; Washington Irving Award, Westchester Library Association, 1991; Reading Is Fundamental Award, 1995; Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, School Library Media Section of New York Public Library Association; Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction, Children's Book Guild/Washington Post, 1998, for "an author or author-illustrator whose total work has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children"; Notable Children's Books list, New York Times, 1999, for Frightful's Mountain; Jeremiah Ludington Award, 2003; Key Award nomination, 2005; My Side of the Mountain selected a New York Librarians book to represent the state at National Book Festival, 2005; Grumman Award.



Vulpes, the Red Fox, Dutton (New York, NY), 1948.

Vison, the Mink, Dutton (New York, NY), 1949.

Masked Prowler: The Story of a Raccoon, Dutton (New York, NY), 1950.

Meph, the Pet Skunk, Dutton (New York, NY), 1952.

Bubo, the Great Horned Owl, Dutton (New York, NY), 1954.

Dipper of Copper Creek, Dutton (New York, NY), 1956.


The Hole in the Tree, Dutton (New York, NY), 1957.

Snow Tracks, Dutton (New York, NY), 1958.

My Side of the Mountain, Dutton (New York, NY), 1959.

The Summer of the Falcon, Crowell (New York, NY), 1962.

Red Robin, Fly Up!, Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, NY), 1963.

Gull Number 737, Crowell (New York, NY), 1964.

Hold Zero!, Crowell (New York, NY), 1966.

Water Sky, Harper (New York, NY), 1987.

On the Far Side of the Mountain, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1990.

The Tarantula in My Purse: And 172 Other Wild Pets, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Tree Castle Island, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Charlie's Raven, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.


Coyote in Manhattan, illustrated by John Kaufmann, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

All upon a Stone, illustrated by Don Bolognese, Crowell (New York, NY), 1971.

Who Really Killed Cock Robin?: An Ecological Mystery, Dutton (New York, NY), 1971.

Julie of the Wolves, illustrated by John Schoenherr, Harper (New York, NY), 1972.

All upon a Sidewalk, illustrated by Don Bolognese, Dutton (New York, NY), 1974.

Hook a Fish, Catch a Mountain: An Ecological Spy Story, Dutton (New York, NY), 1975, published as The Case of the Missing Cutthroats: An Ecological Mystery, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Going to the Sun, Harper (New York, NY), 1976.

The Wentletrap Trap, illustrated by Symeon Shimin, Dutton (New York, NY), 1978.

The Wounded Wolf, illustrated by John Schoenherr, Harper (New York, NY), 1978.

River Rats, Inc., Dutton (New York, NY), 1979.

The Cry of the Crow, Harper (New York, NY), 1980.

The Grizzly Bear with the Golden Ears, illustrated by Tom Catania, Harper (New York, NY), 1982.

The Talking Earth, Harper (New York, NY), 1983.

Shark beneath the Reef, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.

One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest, illustrated by Gary Allen, Crowell (New York, NY), 1990.

The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo: An Ecological Mystery, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

The First Thanksgiving, illustrated by Thomas Locker, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Fire Bug Connection: An Ecological Mystery, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Julie, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Animals Who Have Won Our Hearts, illustrated by Christine Herman Merrill, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes, illustrated by Paul Mirocha, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

To Climb a Waterfall, illustrated by Thomas Locker, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Everglades, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

There's an Owl in the Shower, illustrated by Christine Herman Merrill, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

Julie's Wolf Pack, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Look to the North: A Wolf Pup Diary, illustrated by Lucia Washburn, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Arctic Son, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1997.

Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1998.

Elephant Walk, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Giraffe Trouble, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Gorilla Gang, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Rhino Romp, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Frightful's Mountain, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Incredible Animal Adventures, Harper Trophy (New York, NY), 1999.

Morning, Noon, and Night, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Snow Bear, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1999.

Nutik, the Wolf Pup, illustrated by Ted Rand, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Nutik and Amaroq Play Ball, illustrated by Ted Rand, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Lonesome George, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Autumn Moon, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2001.

Winter Moon, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2001.

Frightful's Daughter, illustrated by Daniel San Souci, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

Spring Moon, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2002.

Summer Moon, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 2002.

Cliff Hanger, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Fire Storm, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Snowboard Twist, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Luck: The Story of a Sandhill Crane, illustrated by Wendell Minor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.


Spring Comes to the Ocean(juvenile), illustrated by John Wilson, Crowell (New York, NY), 1966.

(Self-illustrated) Beastly Inventions: A Surprising Investigation into How Smart Animals Really Are (juvenile), McKay, 1970, published as Animals Can Do Anything, Souvenir Press, 1972.

Everglades Wildguide, illustrated by Betty Fraser, National Park Service, 1972.

(With Toy Lasker) New York in Maps, 1972/73, New York Magazine, 1974.

(With Toy Lasker) New York in Flashmaps, 1974/75, Flashmaps, 1976.

The American Walk Book: An Illustrated Guide to the Country's Major Historical and Natural Walking Trails from New England to the Pacific Coast, Dutton (New York, NY), 1978.

The Wild, Wild Cookbook: A Guide for Young Foragers (juvenile), illustrated by Walter Kessell, Crowell (New York, NY), 1982.

Journey Inward (autobiography), Dutton (New York, NY), 1982.

(Self-illustrated) How to Talk to Your Animals (also see below), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1985.

(Self-illustrated) How to Talk to Your Dog (originally published in How to Talk to Your Animals), Warner (New York, NY), 1986, illustrated by Sue Truesdell, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

(Self-illustrated) How to Talk to Your Cat (originally published in How to Talk to Your Animals), Warner (New York, NY), 1986, illustrated by Paul Meisel, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.


The Moon of the Bears, illustrated by Mac Shepard, Crowell (New York, NY), 1967.

The Moon of the Owls, illustrated by Jean Zallinger, Crowell (New York, NY), 1967.

The Moon of the Salamanders, illustrated by John Kaufmann, Crowell (New York, NY), 1967.

The Moon of the Chickarees, illustrated by John Schoenherr, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

The Moon of the Fox Pups, illustrated by Kiyoaki Komoda, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

The Moon of the Monarch Butterflies, illustrated by Murray Tinkelman, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

The Moon of the Wild Pigs, illustrated by Peter Parnall, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

The Moon of the Mountain Lions, illustrated by Winifred Lubell, Crowell (New York, NY), 1968.

The Moon of the Deer, illustrated by Jean Zallinger, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.

The Moon of the Alligators, illustrated by Adrina Zanazanian, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.

The Moon of the Gray Wolves, illustrated by Lorence Bjorklund, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.

The Moon of the Moles, illustrated by Robert Levering, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.

The Moon of the Winter Bird, illustrated by Kazue Mizumura, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.


One Day in the Desert, illustrated by Fred Brenner, Harper (New York, NY), 1983.

One Day in the Alpine Tundra, illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessell, Harper (New York, NY), 1984.

One Day in the Prairie, illustrated by Bob Marstall, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

One Day in the Woods, Harper (New York, NY), 1988.


(Author of introduction and contributor) Marvels and Mysteries of Our Animal World, Reader's Digest Association, 1964.

(Illustrator) John Johnson Craighead, Hawks, Owls, and Wildlife, 1969.

(Editor with Ann Durell and Katherine Paterson) Aliki, The Big Book for Our Planet, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Also author of play Tree House, music by Saul Aarons. Contributor of articles on natural history and children's literature to periodicals, including Horn Book, Audubon, Reader's Digest, National Wildlife, and International Wildlife. Consultant for science books.

George's manuscripts are held in the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


My Side of the Mountain was adapted as a film starring Teddy Eccles and Theodore Bikel, Paramount, 1969. Julie of the Wolves was adapted as a recording, read by Irene Worth, Caedmon, 1977; as a film; and as a musical with music by Chris Kubie. One Day in the Woods was adapted as a musical video, with music by Fritz Kramer and Kubie, Kunhardt Productions, 1989; and as a musical, with music by Kubie, HarperCollins Audio, 1997. On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain were recorded as an audiocassette by Recorded Books, 1995. Other books adapted for audiocassette include Charlie's Raven, Recorded Books, 2004.

Work in Progress

A novel titled The Last Polar Bear, about the threat to the poles posed by global warming.


Newbery Medal winner Jean Craighead George has made nature the center of her fiction and nonfiction work in a career spanning over half a century of writing and illustrating that includes over one hundred books. In her novels, picture books, and books of fact, George gives young readers many fascinating glimpses into the natural world, earning a reputation as "our premier naturalist novelist," according to New York Times Book Review contributor Beverly Lyon Clark. Writing first with her husband and more recently alone, she has penned studies of animals, such as Dipper of Copper Creek, as well as adventures featuring young people learning to survive in wilderness, like My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, and Charlie's Raven, the first two of which inspired several sequels. Her books are distinguished by authentic detail and a blend of scientific curiosity, wonder, and concern for the natural environment, all expressed in a manner critics have described as both unsentimental and lyrical. As Karen Nelson Hoyle observed in Dictionary of Literary Biography, George "elevates nature in all its intricacies and makes scientific research concerning ecological systems intriguing and exciting to the young reader."

Born in Washington, DC, to a family of naturalists, George was destined to develop an early love of nature. Her father was an entomologist, her mother was a lover of nature and of storytelling, and her twin brothers were also drawn to the outdoors and contributed articles to major magazines about falconry while still in high school. Her twin brothers were a hard act for George to follow, and while growing up she was as adept on the softball field as she was on a mountain trail. George graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1941, studying science and English. Thereafter she studied art at Louisiana State University and pursued graduate work at the University of Michigan.

George met her future husband, John Lothar George, during World War II; the couple married four months after their first meeting. Three children were soon born, and after the war John worked on his dissertation on birds and taught at various colleges, including Vassar. George's first six books were written in collaboration with her husband; each book characterizes a different animal. These early books "are best represented," according to Hoyle, by Dipper of Copper Creek, which "interweaves facts about the life cycle of the water ouzel with the tale of prospector Whispering Bill Smith and his grandson Doug's yearning for independence." Winner of the Aurianne Award in 1956, Dipper of Copper Creek set the tone for much of George's literary output through its informed and sensitive blendings of fact and fiction.

One of her first major solo efforts was My Side of the Mountain, a book that had been growing in her mind for some time before she put pen to paper. Using the woods lore she learned while on camping trips with her father and brothers along the Potomac River, George thought up a character and plot device to present such information. A survival story about a teenage boy who runs away to the woods and lives off the land for a year, My Side of the Mountain won a number of awards, including a Newbery Honor, and widespread praise. The first-person account describes thirteen-year-old Sam Gribley's self-sufficient wilderness life in detail, including the hollowed-out tree that becomes his home, his capture and training of the female peregrine falcon he names Frightful, and his various woodland recipes. Equipped with a pen knife, a ball of cord, an ax, and forty dollars, Sam whittles a fish hook out of a green twig, constructs a tent from hemlock boughs, and makes snowshoes from ash saplings and deer hide. His year in the woods is considered by some critics the ultimate survival tale for youngsters. Writing in Horn Book, Karen Jameyson commented on the book's premise: "When Sam explains, in his determined, quietly exuberant way, that he has decided to leave his New York City home … to go to live on the old Gribley land in the Catskill Mountains, the plan sounds a bit cockamamie. It also sounds mighty appealing." Zena Sutherland, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, called the novel "amazing and unusual," as well as "absorbing reading."

So appealing is its premise that My Side of the Mountain has become a modern classic. It was adapted for a movie in 1969 and has also inspired two highly popular sequels, 1990's On the Far Side of the Mountain and 1999's Frightful's Mountain, as well as the 2002 picture book Frightful's Daughter. In On the Far Side of

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

the Mountain Sam's peregrine falcon, Frightful, has been seized by a conservation officer as an endangered species, and Sam's sister Alice then goes missing. Reviewing an audio version of the book, Edith Ching noted in School Library Journal that George's "attention to detail continues to be important" in this novel, and concluded that the book "is a narrative for all ages." With Frightful's Mountain the point of view shifts from humans to wildlife. The book opens with Frightful, Sam's peregrine, held by poachers, and the bird can think of only one thing: returning somehow to Sam. Sam's sister Alice is instrumental in freeing Frightful, but then the falcon must make its own way back to Sam. "George builds the suspense in a third-person narration that most often takes the falcon's perspective," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, the critic adding that details such as peregrine migratory, mating, and nesting habits "are seamlessly woven into the plot." Praising the title in the New York Times Book Review, Mary Harris Russell commented that Frightful's Mountain "is a novel that will change the way you look at the world."

The falcon's story is continued for younger children in Frightful's Daughter. Enhanced by Daniel San Souci's detailed paintings, George's story recounts the plight of peregrine chick Oksi as she learns the ways of the wild and the dangers posed by some humans in order to survive. Almost caught by poachers, Frightful's young, independent-minded offspring is cared for by Sam until it is time to return to the wild, in a book that a Kirkus Reviews writer cited as an effective "means of introducing children to Sam Gribley's intriguing world."

The popularity of My Side of the Mountain could not have come at a better time for George, who divorced in 1963 and set about earning a living as a single parent by her writing. She also pursued her love of nature, turning her home in Chappaqua, New York, into something of a zoo with hundreds of wild animals living in her house and backyard, among them owls, robins, mink, seagulls, and even tarantulas. The success of My Side of the Mountain helped, as did a job with Reader's Digest from 1969 to 1982. Several other juvenile novels followed, including Gull Number 737, Hold Zero!, and Coyote in Manhattan, as well as the popular nonfiction series, "Thirteen Moons," which features a different animal for each of the new moons of the year's lunar calendar. Sutherland noted in a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books review of series installment The Moon of the Fox Pups that George "writes of the animal world with knowledge and enthusiasm, her descriptions of wild life untainted by melodrama or anthropomorphism." The thirteen books in the series were reissued in 1993 with new illustrations.

One summer in the late 1960s George and her younger son, Luke, made a journey to Alaska, and this trip strongly shaped her novel Julie of the Wolves. The two had gone to Barrow to learn about wolf behavior from a scientist doing a study there, but they also got some unplanned lessons in native Inuit culture. George met a young Inuit woman from whom she learned a great deal about native life. The young woman also inspired the character of George's heroine. From the scientists studying wolves, George learned that humans are able to communicate with wolves and learn wolf language. One female wolf actually communicated back to the author. "When she answered back," George recalled on her home page, "I knew that I wanted to write a book about a little girl who is lost on the tundra and saves her life by communicating with wolves. So I did."

Julie of the Wolves tells the story of the adventures of an Inuit teen who becomes lost on the tundra while running away from an unhappy marriage. When her father disappears on a hunting expedition, Miyax—also known by the English name Julie—is adopted by relatives. At age thirteen she marries so she can leave her foster home. Although her husband is slow-witted and the marriage is little more than a formality, Miyax is content to live with his family. His forceful attempt to have sex with her, however, frightens her and she leaves him. Remembering her California pen pal's repeated invitations to visit, Miyax sets out across the tundra. When she loses her way in the barren land, she survives by learning how to communicate with a wolf pack and is befriended by the lead wolf in the pack whom she names Amaroq. Julie's knowledge of Inuit ways is also crucial, although gradually she begins to understand that the old ways are dying.

Reviewers were enthusiastic about the novel. Hoyle called Julie of the Wolves "George's most significant book," and wrote that the novel's "plot, character development, and setting are epic in dimension." Writing in School Library Journal, Alice Miller Bregman described the book as "compelling," and commented further that "George has captured the subtle nuances of Eskimo life, animal habits, [and] the pain of growing up, and combines these elements into a thrilling adventure which is, at the same time, a poignant love story." Reviewing Julie of the Wolves for the New York Times Book Review, James Houston observed that the novel "is packed with expert wolf lore, its narrative beautifully conveying the vastness of tundra as well as many other aspects of the Arctic." Though Houston questioned the reality of such a connection between human and wolf, he concluded that readers "slowly come to think of these wolves as dear friends." Writing in Horn Book, Virginia Haviland lauded the work as a "book of timeless, perhaps even of classic dimensions." Awards committees took a similar view, nominating the book for many prizes, and the novel won the prestigious Newbery Medal among other honors.

George revisits her characters in Julie, a 1994 sequel that begins only minutes after the ending of Julie of the Wolves, as well as in the 1997 novel Julie's Wolf Pack, a story told almost totally from the perspective of the wolves. In Julie the Inuit girl returns to her family's village, Kangik, only to discover that her long-estranged father, Kapugen, has married a white woman and left the old ways behind. In fact, readers learn that he is the one who shot Amaroq from a plane at the end of the previous novel. Julie struggles to save her beloved wolves and also falls in love with a young Siberian man, Peter Sugluk. "This one will go like hotcakes, both to new readers and old fans of the prequel," commented Susan Dunn in a Voice of Youth Advocates review of Julie. Dunn concluded that book is both "an excellent adventure story" and a novel that supplies a "delicious taste of a nontraditional lifestyle and personality." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Hazel Rochman observed that "what's glorious is the lyrical nature writing…. George's sense of the place is so instinctive and so physically precise that the final Edenic vision of natural world order restored … is like a ringing song of triumph."

With Julie's Wolf Pack the focus shifts to the pack, now led by Kapu, the new alpha male. Constantly challenged by a loner wolf named Raw Bones, Kapu must prove himself to the pack, while rabies looms as another enemy. Though many reviewers felt the third novel lacks the dramatic tension of the first two, largely because Julie is peripheral to the plot, Carrie Eldridge, writing in Kliatt, thought George's "obvious knowledge of her subject matter is admirable and resonates throughout the story." Speaking with Karen Williams in the Christian Science Monitor, George explained her affinity for wolves: "I am intrigued that their society is very much like ours—with leaders (alphas), vice presidents (betas), and cabinet members. They all have talents, and the wolf pack recognized them. I love their devotion to each other. They stay together partly for economic reasons, but mainly because of their deep affection and loyalty."

George has written about the Arctic in other novels, as well, most notably in Water Sky and The Wounded Wolf. She has also looked at nature in the continental United States with ecological mysteries such as Hook a Fish, Catch a Mountain: An Ecological Spy Story (republished as The Case of the Missing Cutthroat), Who Really Killed Cock Robin?: An Ecological Mystery, The Fire Bug Connection: An Ecological Mystery, and The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo; and with adventures tales such as Going to the Sun, set in the Rocky Mountains; River Rats, Inc., dealing with white-water rafting; The Wentletrap Trap, set on Bimini; and The Cry of the Crow, set in the Florida Everglades. Another novel set in the Everglades is The Talking Earth. More environmental issues are dealt with in There's an Owl in the Shower, in which an out-of-work logger's son takes in a baby owl only to discover that it is a species of spotted owl that has cost his father his job.

While illustrating many of her books for children, George frequently teams up with talented artists such as Wendell Minor, Thomas Locker, Ted Rand, and Daniel San Souci in producing her nature-filled books. Among her collaborations with Minor is Arctic Son, a "picture-book ode to the Arctic," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. A chronicle of the birth and early years of George's grandson, the book is a "warm, positive story of life in the Far North," wrote Mollie Bynum in School Library Journal. In Morning, Noon, and Night, another collaboration with Minor, George portrays the activities of a variety of animals from dawn on the East Coast to sundown on the West. The Arctic spring is captured in Snow Bear, which tells of an Inuit girl who goes out on a hunt and encounters a bear cub. Patricia Manning, reviewing Snow Bear for School Library Journal, commented that "the simple, pleasing text is accompanied by luminous watercolors that faithfully record this charming (if improbable) chance meeting." Teaming up with Locker, George has also produced The First Thanksgiving and To Climb a Waterfall, and has created a series of picture books as companion volumes to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

George teamed with Rand to produce two picture-book adaptations of Julie's Wolf Pack. In Nutik, the Wolf Pup and Nutik and Amaroq Play Ball Julie's younger brother Amaroq is put in charge of a hungry wolf pup that has been orphaned in the wild. While the pair quickly become the best of friends, Amaroq realizes that at some point his new playmate will have to be returned to the

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

pack. Praising Rand's paintings in Nutik, the Wolf Pup for their ability to "capture the affection between boy and pup," Booklist contributor Linda Perkins also cited George's work in "skillfully telescop[ing]" a subplot of her novel "into a picture book with heart-tugging appeal."

Also featuring illustrations by Minor, Tree Castle Island is characteristic of George in its focus on a resourceful young person's ability to survive in the wild. The novel finds fourteen-year-old Jack staying with his Uncle Hamp in Florida while Jack's parents travel to Europe. Building his own canoe, he explores the Okefenokee Swamp near his uncle's house. After several days of exploring, Jack discovers that he cannot return home because of a blockage that has formed in the river; the current is now running the wrong way. Deciding to wait the situation out, the teen makes his way to an island in the middle of the swamp, where he builds a makeshift tree house for protection. A stray dog named Dizzy wanders onto the scene and becomes the boy's companion, followed by a local boy named Jake who, in a twist of fate, ultimately changes Jack's life forever. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, praised George's choice of the Okefenokee Swamp as "a well-developed, original setting." The book's ending, wrote a critic for Kirkus Reviews, is "a pleasant and satisfying surprise."

George researched Tree Castle Island by exploring the 700-square miles of the Okefenokee Swamp with her fourteen-year-old nephew and two granddaughters. She based Jack's island tree house on an old legend about Paradise Island, a beautiful island deep in the swamp where the mysterious "Sun Daughters" are said to live. "Although Jack doesn't find Paradise Island," George told Deborah Hopkinson in an online interview for BookPage, "he does make an important discovery about his own past."

Another story inspired by the author's research trips with family members, Charlie's Raven introduces readers to thirteen-year-old Charlie, who worries about his naturalist grandfather as the man recovers from a debilitating heart attack. After learning from his Teton Sioux friend Singing Bird that ravens have the ability to help the sick heal, Charlie captures a young raven chick he names Blue Sky. Hiding his true motives and unsure whether a bird with such a bad reputation can actually work for good, he declares that the bird is part of a research project. As Charlie's grandfather teaches the teen how to care for and observe the bird, he truly does seem to heal, and the experience also creates a strong bond between the man and his grandson. As Charlie learns about the bird, he begins to understand the duality of nature; as a Kirkus Reviews writer noted, "there aren't true dividing lines between good and bad in the natural world." Kay Weisman, reviewing Charlie's Raven in Booklist, called the book "a satisfying family story," while in Publishers Weekly a critic wrote that George "weaves threads of Native American lore and scientific fact into a moving story." While noting that the novel contains an overabundance of not-quite-believable occurances, Ellen Fader wrote in School Library Journal that young readers "will close the book with a healthy respect for the natural world."

Throughout her writing career, George has blended scientific accuracy with her love of nature and her ability to convey that love through telling detail, dramatic narrative, and likeable, realistic characters. As she noted on her home page, despite the distractions of modern culture, "Children are still in love with the wonders of nature, and I am too. So I tell them stories about a boy and a falcon, a girl and an elegant wolf pack, about owls, weasels, foxes, prairie dogs, the alpine tundra, the tropical rain forest. And when the telling is done, I hope they will want to protect all the beautiful creatures and places." Discussing her life as a writer during an online chat posted at the New York Public Library Web site, George exclaimed: "I just love it. I have a perfect life where I read, I go out into the wilderness and camp. I meet scientists and learn about their studies of wild animals and then I come home and I sit at my computer, close my eyes and start creating the world I have seen. Then I get up and make supper!"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Volumes 2, 4, Beacham Publishing (Osprey, FL), 1990.

Cary, Alice, Jean Craighead George, Learning Works (Santa Barbara, CA), 1996.

Children's Literature Review, Volume 1, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1976.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 35, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 52: American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Gallo, Donald R., editor, Speaking for Ourselves: Autobiographical Sketches by Notable Authors of Books for Young Adults, National Council of Teachers of English (Urbana, IL), 1990.

George, Jean Craighead, Journey Inward, Dutton (New York, NY), 1982.

St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Viguers, Ruth Hill, A Critical History of Children's Literature, revised edition, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1969.

Writers for Young Adults, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.


Booklist, May 15, 1993, p. 1693; July, 1993, p. 1970; August, 1994, p. 2064; April 15, 1995, p. 1505; August, p. 1966; September, 1995, p. 77; November 15, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Tarantula in My Purse: And 172 Other Wild Pets, p. 581; August, 1998, p. 2014; December 1, 1998, p. 670; August, 1999, p. 2063; September 1, 1999, Linda Perkins, review of Frightful's Mountain, p. 132; February 1, 2001, Linda Perkins, review of Nutik, the Wolf Pup, p. 1055; May 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Nutik and Amaroq Play Ball, p. 1757; March 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Tree Castle Island, p. 1255; September, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of Frightful's Daughter, p. 136; December 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Fire Storm, p. 684; August, 2004, Kay Weisman, review of Charlie's Raven, p. 1933; October 15, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Snowboard Twist, p. 410.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1960, Zena Sutherland, review of My Side of the Mountain, p. 161; July-August, 1968, Zena Sutherland, review of The Moon of the Fox Pups, p. 174; January, 1972, p. 74; April, 1995, pp. 275-275; July, 2001, review of Nutik, the Wolf Pup, p. 408.

Christian Science Monitor, September 25, 1997, Karen Williams, "Talking with Wolves, Then Writing about Them," p. 82.

Horn Book, January-February, 1973, Virginia Haviland, review of Julie of the Wolves, pp. 54-55; July-August, 1989, Karen Jameyson, "A Second Look: My Side of the Mountain," pp. 529-531; November-December, 1989, pp. 808-810; November-December, 1994, p. 730; January-February, 1998, p. 71; March-April, 2000, p. 209.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Tree Castle Island, p. 654; May 15, 2002, review of Cliff Hanger, p. 732; August 15, 2002, review of Frightful's Daughter, p. 1223; August 15, 2003, review of Fire Storm, p. 1972; September 1, 2004, review of Charlie's Raven, p. 865.

Kliatt, September, 1995, p. 62; May, 1996, p. 8; July, 1996, p. 52; July, 1999, Carrie Eldridge, review of Julie's Wolf Pack, p. 16; May, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Tree Castle Island, p. 16.

New York Times Book Review, January 21, 1973, James Houston, review of Julie of the Wolves, p. 8; May 10, 1987, Beverly Lyon Clark, review of Water Sky, p. 26; May 20, 1990, p. 42; November 13, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Julie, p. 27; November 16, 1997, p. 58; November 21, 1999, Mary Harris Russell, review of Frightful's Mountain, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1993, p. 32; January 23, 1995, p. 70; April 28, 1997, p. 77; July 21, 1997, review of Arctic Son, p. 200; May 25, 1998, p. 92; May 31, 1999, p. 96; October 18, 1999, review of Frightful's Mountain, p. 83; May 7, 2001, p. 249; April 29, review of Cliff Hanger, p. 69; September 15, review of Fire Storm, p. 67; October 4, 2004, review of Charlie's Raven, p. 88.

School Library Journal, January, 1973, Alice Miller Bregman, review of Julie of the Wolves, p. 75; February, 1993, p. 97; September, 1994, p. 176; June, 1995, p. 100; September, 1995, p. 163; May, 1996, Edith Ching, audio review of On the Far Side of the Mountain, p. 75; June, 1996, p. 122; November, 1997, Mollie Bynum, review of Arctic Son, pp. 81-82; March, 1999, p. 174; April, 1999, p. 94; September, 1999, Patricia Manning, review of Snow Bear, p. 182; January, 2001, Debra Bogart, review of Frightful's Mountain, p. 74; March, 2001, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of Nuttik the Wolf Pup, p. 208; May, 2002, Faith Brautigam, review of Tree Castle Island, p. 152; September, 2002, Margaret Bush, review of Frightful's Daughter, p. 192; December, 2002, Dorian Chong, review of Frightful's Daughter, p. 96; November, 2003, Linda Ludke, review of Fire Storm, p. 94; September, 2004, Ellen Fader, review of Charlie's Raven, p. 205; November, 2004, Rebecca Luhman, review of Snowboard Twist, p. 103.

Teaching PreK-8, May, 1994, Diane Winarski, "The Dynamic Environment of Jean Craighead George."

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1994, Susan Dunn, review of Julie, p. 272; August, 1996, p. 156; April, 1998, p. 42; February, 2000, p. 110; March, 2001, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of Nutik, the Wolf Pup, p. 208; July, 2001, Sally R. Dow, review of Nutik and Amaroq Play Ball, p. 81.


BookPage, (May 15, 2006), Deborah Hopkinson, interview with George.

Jean Craighead George Home Page, (May 15, 2006).

New York Public Library Summer Reading Web site, (August 17, 2004), "Transcript of Live Chat with Jean Craighead George."


All about the Book!: A Kid's Video Guide to "Julie of the Wolves" (DVD), Tim Podell Productions, 2002.

A Talk with Jean Craighead George (DVD), Tim Podell Productions, 1991.

Storyteller: A Year with Jean Craighead George (DVD), Craighead Environmental Research Institute, 2005.

About this article

George, Jean Craighead 1919–

Updated About content Print Article