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Nature's Writers Trail: George

Library Guide for the Nature Writer's Trail.

Jean Craighead George
July 2, 1919 - May 15, 2012

Jean Carolyn Craighead George was born into a family of naturalists. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were all students of nature. On weekends they camped along the Potomac, gathered edible plants, climbed trees to study owls, and made fish hooks from twigs. She began to write in 3rd grade and never stopped. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1941 from Pennsylvania State University, where she studied English and science. She later worked as a reporter in Washington, first for the International News Service, a forerunner of United Press International, and afterward for The Washington Post, where she wrote features about the White House. She wrote over 100 books for children and young adults. Common themes in her works are the environment, the natural world, and how humans interact with it. 

  • "We humans will never know how meadows or mountains smell, but deer and horses and pigs do. Bando sniffs deeply and shakes his head. We were left out when it comes to smelling things, he says. I would love to be able to smell a mountain and follow my nose to it."

  • "I throw back my head, and, feeling free as the wind, breathe in the fresh mountain air. Although I am heavy-hearted, my spirits are rising. To walk in nature is always good medicine."

  • "I must say this now about that first fire. It was magic. Out of dead tinder and grass and sticks came a live warm light. It cracked and snapped and smoked and filled the woods with brightness. It lighted the trees and made them warm and friendly. It stood tall and bright and held back the night."

  • Her first pet was a turkey vulture.
  • She worked as a member of the White House Press Corps.
  • She also worked as a reported for the Washington Post. 
  • Over the years Jean George kept 173 pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York.
    • “Most of these wild animals depart in autumn when the sun changes their behavior and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories.”

  • My Side of the Mountain 
  • Julie of the Wolves
  • On the Far Side of the Mountain (Mountain, Book 2)
  • Frightful's Mountain (Mountain, Book, 3)
  • The Tarantula in My Purse: and 172 Other Wild Pets

  • She won the John Newbery Medal in 1960 for My Side of the Mountain and a second time in 1973 for Julie of the Wolves. 
  • She also won the Regina Medal in 2003 which is a literary award conferred annually by the U.S.- based Catholic Library Association.

The Big Book for Our Planet

Nearly thirty stories, poems, and non-fiction pieces by such notable authors as Natalie Babbitt, Marilyn Sachs, and Jane Yolen illustrated by the likes of Steven Kellogg and Susan Jeffers, demonstrate some of the environmental problems now plaguing our planet.

Pocket Guide to the Outdoors (Franklin County Public Library)

Presents basic wilderness survival training and sustainability, including how to build a fire, find potable water, navigate by the stars, and identify poisonous plants.

The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo (Franklin County Public Library)

Sixth-grader Liza K., one of five homeless people living in an unspoiled forest in souther Florida, searches for a missing alligator destined for official extermination and studies the delicate ecological balance keeping her outdoor home beautiful.

The Tarantula in My Purse (Franklin County Public Library)

A collection of autobiographical stories about raising a houseful of children and wild pets including crows, skunks, and raccoons.

Fire Storm (Franklin County Public Library)

Alex enjoys kayaking behind the raft of his aunt and uncle as they journey down Idaho's Salmon River, until they find themselves in the middle of a forest fire.

The Buffalo Are Back (Franklin County Public Library)

Presents an environmental success story of the buffalo's return from near extinction that describes the contributions of the Native Americans, cowboys, and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as the rebuilding of herds in national parks.

The Wolves Are Back (Franklin County Public Library)

For over a century, wolves were persecuted in the United States and nearly became extinct. Gradually reintroduced, they are thriving again in the West, much to the benefit of the ecosystem.

The Fire Bug Connection (Franklin County Public Library)

Twelve-year-old Maggie receives European fire bugs for her birthday, but when they fail to metamorphose and grow grossly large and explode instead, she uses scientific reasoning to determine the strange cause of their deaths.

Julie's Wolf Pack (Franklin County Public Library)

A continuation of the story of Julie and her wolves, in which Kapu must protect his pack from famine and disease while uniting it under his new leadership.