Friday, December 15, 2017

My Side of the Mountain

This has never happened to me before: I enjoyed the sequel more than the original! Be assured, though, My Side of the Mountain
is very good. Young Sam Gribley goes off to live in the wilderness quite comfortably in a huge hollow tree. He trains a young falcon he named Frightful:

"Every day I worked to train Frightful. It was a long process, I would put her on her stump with a long leash and step back a few feet with some meat in my hand. Then I would whistle. The whistle was supposed eventually to mean food to her. So I would whistle, show her the meat, and after many false flaps she would finally fly to my hand. I would pet her and feed her. She could fly fairly well, so now I made sure that she never ate unless he flew to my fist.

"One day at breakfast I whistled for Frightful. I had no food, she wasn't even hungry, but she came to me anyway. I was thrilled. She had learned a whistle meant 'come.'

"I looked into her steely eyes that morning and thought I saw a gentle recognition. She puffed up her feathers as she sat on my hand. I call this a 'feather word.' It means she is content."

I also enjoyed this, from near the end of the book: "I returned to my patch on the mountain, talking to myself all the way. I talk to myself a lot, but everyone does. The human being, even in the midst of people, spends nine-tenths of his time alone with the private voices of his own head. Living alone on a mountain is not much different, except that your speaking voice gets rusty, I talked inside my head all the way home, thinking up schemes, holding conversations with Bando and Dad and Matt Spell...
"I cooked supper, and then sat down by my little fire and called a forum. It is very sociable inside my head, and I have perfected the art of getting a lot of people arguing together in silence or in a forum, as I prefer to call it. I can get four people all talking at once, and a fifth can be present, but generally I can't get him to talk. Usually these forums discuss such things as a storm and whether or not it is coming, how to make a spring suit, and how to enlarge my house without destroying the life in the tree. Tonight, however, they discussed what to do about Matt Spell. Dad kept telling me to go right down to the city and make sure he published nothing, not even a made-up story. Bando said, no, it's all right, he still doesn't know where you live, and then Matt walked into the conversation and said that he wanted to spend his spring vacation with me, and that he promised not to do anything untoward. Matt kept using 'untoward' - I don't know where he got that expression, but he liked it and kept using it - that's how I knew Matt was speaking; everything was 'untoward.'"

What I liked there was that it seemed that author Jean Craighead George described how her stories got generated. Characters in her head interacted, and she transcribed what took place onto paper. I could be wrong, but maybe.

The sequel that I liked even more is called On the Far Side of the Mountain. There's a third book, Frightful's Mountain, but I have not read it yet. It's here at my desk, so it won't be long.

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