Julie of the Wolves

Book review by
Amy Finley, Common Sense Media
Julie of the Wolves Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Thought-provoking saga of Inuit girl adopted by wolf pack.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 28 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

Miyax is smart, brave, compassionate, patient, resourceful, and uses Native wisdom and culture to integrate into the wolf pack and survive. 

Violence

Miyax'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. 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.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of family alcoholism. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 1973 Newbery Medal winner Julie and the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, is the story of a young "Eskimo" girl (actually Inuit) 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. It is 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. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 7-year-old Written byTanya mom of 2 February 12, 2016

Newbery winner in 1988

The chapter book I found was a Newbery winner in 1988, Julie of the Wolves. I was surprised that this was on the challenged list until I got to page 102. I re... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byAcarefulmama October 4, 2013

Parents cautioned - Middle school reading

I remember loving this book as a young teen, and in fact forgot about the rape scene until reading it with my younger children a few years ago. We skipped thos... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byRockAndRollKid May 1, 2014

Book with mature themes. Be careful.

this book is outstanding. It really goes into the cutler of myax. Though the book is buetiful there are iffy moments. The book has mature themes about several t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 19, 2011

Not good for kids under 13

I started reading this book when I was ten and loved it at the start because it had lots of information about wolves and I love animals, but then when the book... Continue reading

What's the story?

In JULIE AND THE WOLVES, Julie/Miyax escapes her village and her husband, 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 young girl's harrowing trek across the Arctic tundra thoughtfully explores the situation Native 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 "Eskimo" 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) becomes more steeped in "Eskimo" ways, she reconsiders her decision to leave Alaska. Julie and the Wolves invites readers to decide whether traditional Inuit culture can survive in the face of Americanization, 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 and 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? 

Book details

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