My Side of the Mountain

   My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Terribly unhappy in his family's crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude and danger of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why has Sam run away to the mountains?
  2. What tasks does he set for himself once he finds the property?
  3. Sam uses various survival skills to make a home in the wilderness. What are some of these skills?
  4. Why doesn't Sam's father prevent him from leaving home?
  5. The book begins with a journal entry about a December storm. Then the story flashes back to the previous May. Why do you think the book begins with the winter event?
  6. In what ways does Sam seem unusual compared to other people of his age? In what ways does he seem much like other young people?
  7. Who is Bando? Why does Sam feel sad when Bando leaves?
  8. Sam sees signs of the coming winter in the way animals behave. What are some of these signs?
  9. As winter approaches, Sam gives a lot of attention to how to keep warm. One way to keep warm is through making warm clothes. What is the other way? What two major problems does Sam encounter? How does he solve the two problems?
  10. Why does Sam want to celebrate Halloween? As he does this, what does he learn about himself and about the animals around him?
  11. What newspaper story does Bando bring to Sam? How has the news gotten out about Sam?
  12. Who is Matt Spell? What bargain does Sam strike with him?
  13. Why does Sam's family move to the mountain?
  14. Toward the end of his year alone, what challenges from nature does Sam face? How is he able to cope with these problems?
  15. During winter and spring, Sam has several human visitors. What feelings does Sam have about this situation?
  16. Bando says to Sam, "Let's face it, Thoreau; you can't live in America today and be quietly different." What does Bando mean by this?
  17. Writers often foreshadow, or give clues about, what will happen next. Here are three events from Sam's story: Sam seeks out a friendship with Aaron; Sam enjoys Tom's stories about kids in town; Sam gets tired of writing in his journal, and goes to the library to get books to read. What major change do these events foreshadow?
  18. Do you like the way the book ends? Explain why or why not.
  19. Sam says of Frightful, "She was a captive, not a wild bird, and that is almost another kind of bird." What do you think Sam means by this? In what way might Sam's statement apply to himself?