What We’re Reading Wednesday: Jean Craighead George and more

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On this summer’s epic road trip, we listened to, among many audiobooks, Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George.  She died last year at the age of 92 after authoring over 100 books for children, and she is one of the best of the best.

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We already loved Ms. George after reading the My Side of the Mountain trilogy last year.  Julie of the Wolves was better, more realistic, and much sadder.  Julie is the English name of Miyax, an Alaskan Eskimo teenager who agrees to an arranged marriage after believing her father has died.  The marriage turns out to be a terrible situation, and she runs away into the wilderness, hoping to make it to the airport in Fairbanks and then to Sacramento, where she has an American penpal.  It doesn’t take her long in the wilderness to realize she is going to need some help, and so she attempts (successfully) to win the trust of the leader of a wolf pack, who helps her find food and protects her from enemies, including a renegade wolf who’s been ostracized from the pack.  You can’t expect a story about a 20th century Eskimo girl torn between the traditional world of her people and modern reality to be anything but sad, but it’s really, really good.  The book won the 1973 Newbery Medal.  We just picked up the sequel, Julie, from the library yesterday.

William likes George’s “eco-mysteries”, which are fun easy reads for the 9-12 age range, and she also has written many beautiful picture books.  Last week we read The Buffalo are Back,

about how the American Plains buffalo were almost completely extinguished in a matter of decades, how their near-extinction contributed the to the Dust Bowl disaster in the 1930s, and how they are starting to return.

We picked up The Wolves are Back from the library yesterday too.

As for me, I’m reading this article about a class on the Blessed Virgin Mary taught at my alma mater, the Evangelical Protestant bastion Wheaton College.  Great food for ecumenical thought.

And a poem N. brought home from school for me.

“Writer and Teacher” by Seamus Heaney

A humble master of two trades
Who keeps to his own room, evades
The market-place and the headline;
Teaching each child to use his eyes,
To tell small truths instead of lies
In big words that sound fine.

He hatches talent with his own;
Can breed a tenderness in bone-
heads, always helping them to look
With love at movement in the street,
To celebrate each joy they meet.
Reads every boy like a new book.

A week’s a chapter in the tale
Where thirty boys drive towards the gale
Of living – once his lessons cease.
“His work says little that is new”
According to one slick review.
But the pupils are his masterpiece.

Lots more interesting book reviews today at Housewifespice!

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