;( Damn what a month. Just saw on Pinterest of all places that Jean Craighead George died on the fifteenth of this month from complications of a stroke (same thing that Maurice Sendak died of wth). She was ninety-two years old.
Jean Craighead George wrote a book that was a staple of my childhood: Julie Of The Wolves.
It’s a book about a very young (like thirteen years old) native Alaskan girl who was an orphan and made to marry an abusive guy that doesn’t even want to be her husband. And that’s just the beginning of the book.
She decides to run away from that crappy situation (an attempted rape that was the last straw for her) to try to reach a friend who lives far away, but gets hopelessly lost on the Alaskan tundra.
Apparently Jean Craighead George came up with the idea to write Julie Of The Wolves while on a trip to Barrow, Alaska to do research for an magazine article on wolves.
She had brought her son along for the trip and while in a plane he spotted an Eskimo girl by herself on the tundra. Her son commented that the girl “looked awfully little to be out there by herself.”
While in Barrow she saw many people communicating with wolves and met a woman called Julia Sebevan who taught her about “the old ways of the Eskimos.”
After having so much inspiration in Alaska Jean Craighead George went back home and decided to write a story about an Eskimo girl trying to survive alone on the tundra, basing the main character on Julia Sebevan.
Julie Of The Wolves went on to win many awards, including the Newbery Medal. And despite being a book that was one of the most frequently challenged by parents during that decade (due to the rape scene) it actually made it on to the shelves of my school library.
I drank up all stories about Alaska when I was a kid so when I saw the cool looking cover of Julie Of The Wolves and that the book was about Alaska it was a sure thing that I was going to take it off the shelf and finish it by the next day. I ended up liking the book so much that I bought my own copy and ended up reading it many times over.
So yeah what a loss to have Jean Craighead George pass away, she was such an amazing storyteller. I’m glad she had ninety-three years of life and that she decided to write Julie Of The Wolves, RIP.