I am not an outdoorsy person. I have never really been camping. Never would I ever consider living on my own in the wilderness, or even with other people in the wilderness. When I came to #73 in the Top 100 Children’s Books list, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. Why would I care to read about a young boy who literally does run away from home and makes a new home in a tree in the woods? No thank you, ma’am.
Lo and behold, I loved it. I think it was the fact that I would never in my life do what Sam Gribley do, that made the book so fascinating. His creativity, bravery and physical toughness impressed me to no end. I also loved how Sam’s age is never mentioned, just implied that he is somewhere in his teen years. We don’t meet his family until the end (oops, spoiler), but there is mention that he has a lot of siblings, and does care a lot about his parents. So much ambiguity in the novel actually made it a success in my eyes.
An interesting note to be made is that, while reading this book, my literary husband said that he loved reading this novel when he was younger and did consider moving to the woods behind his house. Brilliant, Steve. Glad you didn’t go through with that one.
by Jean Craighead George
Originally published in 1959