The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

My Side of the Mountain

Sycamore and locust

LucyMy Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George was one of my favorite books twenty-some years ago.  Since I'm taking a quick vacation from Walden, I couldn't resist rereading this fictional account of a boy who follows in Thoreau's footsteps and carves a livelihood out of the woods.

With adult eyes, I see that the author was purposefully referencing Thoreau.  In fact, her book seems to capture many of the best parts of Walden without descending into long-winded philosophizing.  Creek poolAnd, unlike most kids books I reread, My Side of the Mountain seems to have improved with age.

So, if you're one of my many readers who started Walden and then gave up in disgust, here's a book I can whole-heartedly recommend to take its place.  Wild edibles, animal snares, hiding from authorities, and much more.  Just as inspiring now as when it was written over fifty years ago.  Plus, I just realized there's now a sequel!

My first paperback should be on its way to the printer as I type.  Don't forget to preorder The Weekend Homesteader today and receive one of the first available copies!

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

My Side of the Mountain was a favorite in our house growing up. When my son was born five years ago, I saw a copy in a book store and bought it to read to him eventually. I reread it then and still loved it. He's just starting to read chapter books and I can't wait to share it with him!
Comment by Dave V. Wed Jun 20 13:44:06 2012
Dave --- That's the sign of a really good book --- fun for kids and adults!
Comment by anna Wed Jun 20 14:09:09 2012
I was a serious fan of My Side of the Mountain. My copy had highlighting and lots of margin notes. Seriously loved that book.
Comment by Charity Wed Jun 20 15:15:18 2012

Hi--I'm waiting for one with a girl-hero, who does what this boy does! I liked the sequel because of the raptors, if I remember it right. Mainly I wanted to comment on your creek photo--thank you!!

About a girl heroine who survives "in the wild" alone. Has anyone ever heard of Nobody's Girl? She hid out in an isolated cabin on an island. The best part was how she wove sandals out of rushes, I think. This writer, Malot, must have written before WWI.

Comment by adriane Wed Jun 20 17:01:46 2012

Charity --- A slight fan, huh? :-)

Mom --- You're right that the book needed a girl hero! And I can't quite figure out why the hero wasn't a girl since the author is a woman?! Mark thinks her publisher might have told her that was too unrealistic since the book was published quite a while ago?

I clearly need to (re)-read Nobody's Girl. I can't actually remember if I read it or not, although I do remember you talking about it.

Comment by anna Wed Jun 20 17:58:18 2012
It looks like Nobody's Girl is out of print and freely available on the internet. There's a version with photos but just scanned text (which means a big file that's hard to read on an ereader) at And there's a version with no pictures but real text at
Comment by anna Wed Jun 20 19:06:14 2012
I just went and put this on hold with my librarys website. Did you know they also made a movie of this? I reserved that too.
Comment by Irma Wed Jun 20 22:48:45 2012
I forgotten the title of it, but I loved reading that book! I will have to look for the movie at the library...
Comment by John Amrhein Thu Jun 21 07:29:37 2012

Oh, I read this book over and over when I was a kid. I still think about it when I see dead trees that might be just big enough to curl up in, or when I make blueberry jam or see a falcon! I don't remember enjoying the sequel as much, but then again, I'm sure I never read it as many times.

PS Thank you again for the walking onion topsets! They arrived safe and sound and will be ready to go in the ground as soon as New England is no longer 100*

Comment by Zoë Thu Jun 21 09:13:02 2012

My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorite books when I was young. So much so that when my parents wouldn't buy me a copy, I stole one from the library. I've bought a few additional copies over the years, as the one I had became too dog-eared and worn to be useable. I've also read the two sequels, The Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain, but they weren't nearly as good.

That entire genre was my favorite growing up. Among my other favorites were Swiss Family Robinson, Hatchet, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Call it Courage

Comment by Drake Thu Jun 21 11:01:05 2012
I just read My Side of the Mountain for the first time a couple months ago. I saw the movie when I was a kid and LOVED it. I'd been intending to read the book ever since I found out it existed, but other books had taken precedence.
Comment by Angela Thu Jun 21 15:50:10 2012

Irma --- I'm pretty sure I haven't seen the movie, but Mark saw it and (I think) liked it.

John --- Glad to jog your memory. :-)

Zoe --- I just finished the sequel this morning, and I agree --- not quite so good. I'll still probably read book three, though. Glad to hear the onions arrived safely!

Drake --- Tch tch! But I'm not one to speak --- I disliked the epilogue to one favorite book so much when I was a kid that I whipped out my scissors and cut it out. If the pages aren't there, those events didn't happen, right? I remember photocopying another favorite book at the library and taping it together --- it was short enough that the process was cost effective, but I was terrified the whole time that I'd be caught and sent to jail for copyright infringement.

I should probably read Swiss Family Robinson. I feel like I only saw the movie? I did love Hatchet, but not quite as much as My Side of the Mountain. It's more realistic, but less idealistic. (I just reread Hatchet, actually, to compare the two.)

Angela --- Glad to hear you loved it as much as I did!

Comment by anna Thu Jun 21 16:33:31 2012

This is a trilogy so there are two more books to enjoy:

2 On the Far Side of the Mountain

3 Frightful's Mountain

Then there are books about Frightful's descendants - we have not read them but discovered the titles in a search for sequels as my son fell in love with the book last year. They might be more sequels or a new series with familiar characters.

4 Frightful's Daughter

5 Frightful's Daughter Meets the Baron Weasel.

We are just hoping the rest of the books are as engrossing as the first was.

Comment by Stephanie in AR Sat Jun 23 11:03:51 2012
Stephanie --- I just finished "On the Far Side of the Mountain" this week. It was fun, but not nearly as inspiring as the original, in my opinion. I'll probably work my way through at least the next one, but I don't have as high hopes as I did after reading "My Side of the Mountain".
Comment by anna Sat Jun 23 12:47:49 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.