Jean Craighead George: remembering a Newbery Award-winner

Jean Craighead George, author of 'My Side of the Mountain' and 'Julie of the Wolves,' was often praised for her detailed descriptions of wildlife.

Courtesy of Jean Craighead George
Author Jean Craighead George was a lifelong animal lover who attempted to pass on the value of other creatures to her readers.

Children’s author Jean Craighead George, who died this week at the age of 92, was a Newbery Medal winner for her 1972 book “Julie of the Wolves,”

George, who wrote more than 100 books, was known especially for “My Side of the Mountain,” which tells the story of a boy who resolves to live in the forests of New York's Catskill mountains [Editor's note: this article originally mistakenly said the boy went to live in the forests of Canada] for one year, and the book “Julie,” which centers on a young Eskimo girl who runs away from her village and befriends a wolf pack with whom she learns to communicate.

Former CEO of HarperCollins, George’s publisher, Jane Friedman told the School Library Journal that George’s strong opinions were a defining character trait.

“She knew her own mind, and [that] was the best thing you could say about anyone,” Friedman said. “She was her own woman.”

George was an animal lover who often featured them in her books and was exposed to wildlife early in life, sometimes accompanying her entomologist father on jobs. After she married ornithologist John George, she encouraged the same love for all creatures in her children, and the family welcomed 173 pets (not counting the cats and dogs) into their home, according to her memoir.

“Remember me as somebody who talked about nature, who awakened [readers] to a new world, and helped them restore it,” George told the School Library Journal in a 2009 interview.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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