Boy's Journeys

  Boy's Journeys
  Contributed by Barbara Krug Spataro

Craven, Margaret. I Heard the Owl Call My Name. Dell Publishing, 1973 - Mark Brian, a young priest, is sent by his bishop to a tiny, isolated village in the Pacific Northwest inhabited by a small Kwakiutl tribe. Unlike the white schoolteacher who keeps himself apart from the villagers, Mark chooses to try to understand the differences in culture and become a member of the community. The story also concerns the village and how it is changing as more young people choose to leave and traditional ways are forgotten. This might fit well in a Social Studies unit concerning Native Americans; it takes place in recent times.

George, Jean Graighead. My Side of the Mountain. Dutton, 1959 - Sam Gribley is a teenager who, tired of living with his large family in an overcrowded New York City apartment, prepares himself for a prolonged stay in the wilderness on his great-grandfather's land in the Catskill Mountains. He spends considerable time studying the construction of animal snares and traps, as well as preparation of edible plants and how to start fires with flint, in New York Public Library before he goes. This is a delightful story of his experiences, written in Sam's voice after he has spent the year on his own. The author continues the story in On the Far Side of the Mountain, and has written two related books of recipes, Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad and 38 Other Wild Recipes and Wild, Wild Cookbook: A Guide for Young Wild-food foragers.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Aladdin, 1987 - Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to spend the first summer with his father since his parents' divorce. While flying in a small plane over the Canadian wilderness, his pilot has a heart attack and Brian must bring the plane down himself. Initially, he expects to be found quickly but comes to realize this might not be so, and learns to scrounge for berries, start a fire from a spark, and fashion a spear to catch fish. His 54-day stay on his own changes him forever. Paulsen continues Brian's story in The River, Brian's Winter, and published this year, Brian's Return.

Durbin, William. The Broken Blade. Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1997 - This first novel concerns the Canadian voyageuers who traveled by canoe from Montreal to the far side of Lake Superior transporting goods to trade for furs with the Ojibwa Indians. It is set in 1800 and follows 13-year-old Pierre who signs on with a brigade in his father's place when he is injured. Pierre endures severely blistered hands from paddling as well as the gentle and not-so-gentle teasing of the other crew members who are older and much more experienced than he, but he is determined to finish the three-month trip and succeeds, returning to his family a changed person. Durbin follows up this book with another one about Pierre, Wintering, published this year.

Cormier, Robert. I am the Cheese. Dell, 1977 - Although this book begins as a boy's journey, of Adam traveling by bicycle from Massachusetts to Vermont to visit his father, it is completely different from all the previous books. Chapters concerning the bike trip alternate with chapters consisting of transcripts from interviews in which a mysterious man named Brint asks Adam questions about his past. Pieces of Adam's story come out bit by bit, leaving the reader anxious to find out what it going on. It is a suspenseful read, with surprises towards the end and a shocking finale. As quoted from The Kirkus Reviews, it is "a bike-ride through the twilight zone."

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This page last updated May 11, 2001
© 2001 Daphne Jorgensen. All Rights Reserved.