Julie of the Wolves
By Amy Finley,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thought-provoking saga of Inuit girl adopted by wolf pack.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's much we can learn from nature and animals. The culture of Indigenous people is threatened by Westernization and Western technology. Follow your dream and take chances.
Positive Role Models
Miyax is smart, brave, compassionate, patient, and resourceful, and uses Native wisdom and culture to integrate into the wolf pack and survive.
Violence & Scariness
Miyax/Julie's weak, mentally challenged husband tries to rape her after being goaded by village boys who believe it's his right as her husband to force himself on her. She vomits after the incident and then escapes. A trusted male figure turns out to be an alcoholic who regularly beats his wife in front of Miyax. A straggler wolf is attacked by the pack. The wolves kill caribou for food, and Miyax cooks the leftover meat. A hunter shoots and kills a wolf from a plane. A bird dies. Miyax eats a baby owl.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
White American author uses term "Eskimo" to refer to Miyax/Julie and her people, a term that has been commonly used when referring to the Indigenous peoples of Alaska and other Arctic regions, including Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. It's now considered derogatory, because it was used by racist, non-Native colonizers. A preferred term in Arctic Canada and parts of Greenland is "Inuit": "Alaska includes the Inupiat and other groups that are included under the overall designation of Inuit," according to the Alaska Native Language Center.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of family alcoholism. A trusted male figure turns out to be an alcoholic.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 1973 Newbery Medal winner Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, is the story of a young "Eskimo" (Inuit) girl named Miyax. Julie is her English name, given to her by her aunt who sends her to an American school. Forced into an arranged marriage at 13 to the mentally challenged son of her father's best friend, she flees after he tries to rape her, and survives in the Alaskan tundra by joining a wolf pack. Other violence incudes the wolf pack attacking and killing a straggler wolf, a hunter shooting a wolf from a plane, and a bird dying. Poetic text, simple illustrations, and the exploration of the impact of Western civilization on the natural world and Native culture enrich the saga of Miyax's adoption by the wolves and her trek across the Arctic. The book is considered a classic and often assigned in middle and high school, but it has been labeled "Not Recommended" by American Indians in Children's Literature for its lack of accuracy in depicting the Inuit experience. It is also often on the American Library Association's annual list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books, partly due to the attempted sexual assault that triggers the main character's escape into the wilderness and survival adventure.
Where to Read
Based on 21 parent reviews
Report this review
Its pretty good...
Report this review
What's the Story?
In JULIE OF THE WOLVES, 13-year-old Julie/Miyax escapes her village and her husband after he tries to rape her, becomes lost and alone on the Arctic tundra, and survives by joining a wolf pack. Lyrical text portrays the interdependence between people and animals in the harsh but beautiful Alaskan environment. As Miyax learns to communicate with the wolves, her physical hardships mirror the plight of Inuit culture as it faces Westernization and modern technology.
Is It Any Good?
This tale of a teen girl's harrowing trek across the Arctic tundra thoughtfully explores what Indigenous peoples face when their culture is threatened by Westernization. As Miyax recalls her "Eskimo" upbringing and learns to survive on the tundra, readers learn about the science of her Indigenous culture and its interdependence with native plants and animals. Miyax uses Native and natural wisdom to gain acceptance by the wolf pack that saves her life.
As Miyax (and the reader) become more steeped in her people's ways, she reconsiders her decision to leave Alaska. Julie of the Wolves invites readers to think about the impact of Americanization on traditional Inuit culture and whether individuals can make a difference within their society.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the interaction between Miyax and the wolf pack in Julie of the Wolves. How does she rely on them? What does she learn from them? How does she help them?
This award-winning novel is regarded as a classic and often assigned in school. It's also frequently on the annual list of banned books. What about it do teachers like so much? Why do you think some parents object to it being in libraries and schools?
Who do you think comes off better in the book: the wolves or the humans? What point do you think the author is trying to make?
- Author: Jean Craighead George
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, History, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTrophy
- Publication date: January 1, 1972
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 170
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate