Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JULIE OF THE WOLVES by John Schoenherr Kirkus Star

JULIE OF THE WOLVES

By Jean Craighead George (Author) , John Schoenherr (Illustrator)

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1972
ISBN: 0064400581
Publisher: Harper & Row

Running away from an arranged marriage with simpleminded Donald, thirteen year-old Julie (she prefers Miyax, her Eskimo name) survives on the barren tundra by making friends with a family of wolves. Her patient, intelligent courting of the animals -- observing their signs of leadership, submission, etc. and aping the appropriate ones -- and her resourcefulness in keeping herself alive (first with a bite of meat a wolf regurgitates for her, then by smoking and freezing what the wolves leave of the caribou they kill) are meticulously observed. In a central flashback we learn of her life to date -- at seal camp with Kapugen, her widowed father who taught her to live in the wild, in town with her unsympathetic aunt who calls her Julie, sends her to an American school, and tells her of Kapugen's presumed death, then with Donald's family, reasonably contented until he, goaded by the other boys, roughly attempts to assert his husbandly prerogative. Now Miyax plans to make her way to a harbor town, then fly to the pink bedroom and velvet theater seats promised by her pen pal in San Francisco. But as she nears the coast months later (the wolves still paralleling her course) a plane appears. Then the air explodes with gunshots and the magnificent Amaroq, her adoptive wolf father, is killed. "Black exhaust envolved her, and civilization became this monster that snarled across the sky." The final devastation occurs when Miyax, having heard from traveling hunters that Kapugen is alive, arrives at her father's new house to find, along with the harpoons and kayak and couch of furs, a white wife, electric lights, and a helmet and goggles. "'Aw, that. I now own an airplane, Miyax. It's the only way to hunt today. The seals are scarce and the whales are almost gone.' . . . Kapugen, after all, was dead to her," and later, alone in the snow, Miyax sings to the totem she has carved of Amaroq "that the hour of the wolf and the Eskimo is over." Though remarkable Miyax and her experience are totally believable, her spirit living evidence of the magnitude of the loss.