by Sabrina, Age 12
Do you like beautiful stories that truly capture your heart and make you want to explore the wilderness? Then this is the book for you! Julie, the main character of Jean Craighead George’s novel, Julie of the Wolves, lives on the Alaskan tundra, which inspires her wild imagination and desire for adventure. Julie is raised by her father who teaches her to communicate with animals.
After she believes that her father has died, she enters an arranged marriage, even though she is only thirteen. The marriage is unhappy so she runs away, trying to get to California so she can meet her pen pal, Amy. Unfortunately, Julie gets lost, trudging through the icy snow of the tundra. She meets a wolf pack, who turns out to be friendly once she uses the communication skills her father taught her!
When I was reading this book, I was really struck by the descriptions of the tundra—so terrifying, yet so beautiful. Not only does it serve as a backdrop to Julie’s journey, but it also helped me understand Julie’s character. It captures Julie’s desire for adventure and shows her determination and bravery. The tundra is mostly flat and full of bare trees, so when she looks far away, it seems to her like the tundra is endless. This means that Julie is determined no matter how far away her goal might seem.
Also, though there are many predators around looking for prey, the snow provides many hiding places for them, such as holes and dens. Therefore, it’s harder for the animals to find prey. This is very much like Julie because she works hard and won’t stop until she finds the food she needs to survive.
The tundra also shows that Julie is a dreamer because she sees it as a magical place. She admires the sky reflecting onto the tundra, which causes many beautiful colours and shapes to form over the snow. For example, she sees it “glistening gold” or with “a feathering of snow.” Once she imagines how “every wind-tossed sedge is a silver thread” over the tundra. These descriptions show Julie’s dreamy personality. So, the tundra is also like a mirror because it reflects Julie and the way she sees the world.
The tundra helped me enjoy this book because it created all of the adventures that Julie went through. It also helped me understand her love for the wilderness and for her friends, the wolves. Also, the tundra is basically Julie’s life and is where all the twists in the book occur. Without the tundra, this book would not be as exciting.
I also love this book because it made me feel all kinds of different emotions! When Julie first encountered the wolves, I felt very nervous because I didn’t know if they would hurt her. But when she starts to bond with them I was very happy and relieved—even the wolf cubs play with her like a normal wolf, as if they don’t know that she is a human.
There are other parts that are extremely sad, like when one of her wolf friends die. Because of the wolves’ kindness and Julie’s determination, the story was really inspiring. It also made me wish I could communicate better with animals, like Julie’s special mastered skill with wolves. It made me want to talk to Daisy, my cat, in order to know what crazy things could be in a little cat’s brain! All in all, this is a very touching book full of beautiful, moving descriptions of challenges, bravery, and love.
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