Julie of the Wolves

by George, Jean Craighead. (HarperCollins, 1972 ISBN 0-06-440058-1) Novel. 170 pages. Grades 5+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Miyax rebels against a home situation she finds intolerable and runs away toward San Francisco, toward her pen pal, who calls her Julie. But soon Miyax is lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass. Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic 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.

The wolves in the book are, of course, dealt with sympathetically and their tragedy is one deeply felt by most readers. It's not difficult to find good information about wolves; the Sierra Club's book Wolves by R. D. Lawrence is a particularly well done resource on the subject. Students might like to investigate wolves more seriously and then decide whether or not wolves would/could have adopted Julie in the way in which the book has them do. Students might also like to consider how much of her survival is her own doing.

Julie is caught between cultures and her choice is well-defined. Until the very last sentence in the book, readers are unsure which choice she will make and most are empathetic toward her dilemma. So, the discussion easily becomes which choice would they have made or was she justified. Should the book have been entitled "Miyax of the Wolves"?

The sequel Julie may answer some but not all of the questions readers may have after reading Julie of the Wolves.

Related Books

cover art Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young. (1989, Philomel. ISBN 9780399216190. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr 2-9.
This tale from China is a version of Little Red Riding Hood. A mother leaves her three daughters while she visits their granny. While she's gone a wolf comes to their door disguised as their granny. It's the illustrations that bring this book to a high level. Young uses panels which echo Chinese decorative screens as well as full page spreads on which the image of the wolf is sometimes subtle but ubiquitous. It won the Caldecott Medal. We highly recommend it.

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The Goats by Brock Cole. (2010, Square Fish. ISBN 9780312611910. Order Info.) Novel. 192 pages. Gr 5-9.
In this modern survival story Laura and Howie are the victims of a camp prank where a boy and a girl are stripped and left on an island in the lake. They are the Goats, chosen because of their inability to fit in. Laura and Howie decide to disappear both for revenge and because they don't want to return to the cruelty of the kids at the camp.


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