Julie of the Wolves
It had to happen at some point: This week I’m reviewing Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, a very formative book for me. I was a chapter-book reader in elementary school, so that’s probably when I picked up this series.
Craighead George’s Julie series follows a Yupik girl named Miyax/Julie, living in Alaska, who leaves an abusive relationship to try to get to a penpal in San Francisco. She doesn’t make it out of Alaska, but she does find herself in the wilderness developing bonds with a wolf pack. Julie is a survivalist with a knack for communicating with the wolves through body language. They accept her as one of their own, and ultimately she vouches for their safety and survival.
I think this book series helped me decide that I could do anything I set out to do. I would recommend it to any reader, young or old. Craighead George’s writing is nuanced, and she respects the ability of young readers to pick up on subtleties and societal criticism. In the wolf pack and in Julie’s life among humans, she faces obstacles that threaten her life, and the choices she makes effect real change on her path.
When I started reading Julie, I was already a nature appreciator with an interest in animals. These books fully converted me to a wolf lover (I still have some of the drawings on school papers to attest to it). Additionally, the lush descriptions of the tundra were educational and have made me want to visit Alaska (someday!). Craighead George’s deep understanding of wolves and how they communicate also left an impression on me. I may have employed a few of Julie’s communication techniques with the dogs I grew up with. (And who’s to say whether they did or didn’t work?)
If you’re looking for a glimpse of new terrain, a coming-of-age tale, or a quick but deep read, I highly recommend Julie of the Wolves or the entire trilogy.