A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- 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: February 04, 2019
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