Review: Pocket Guide to the Outdoors by Jean Craighead George

Title: Pocket Guide to the Outdoors
Based On: My Side of the Mountain
Author: Jean Craighead George, Twig C. George
Publication Date: September 17th, 2009
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Pages: 144 
ISBN: 0525421637
Source: The Library

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Generations of readers have escaped into the woods with My Side of the Mountain, the story of a city boy named Sam who learns to live in the wild. Now, Newbery winner Jean Craighead George offers an easy-to-follow guide for fans who want to live the adventure?just like Sam. Learn how to start a fire, build a shelter, catch a fish, identify useful plants, and much more. Hands-on activities are perfect for backyard campers or an afternoon stroll through the park. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings and packed with activities, naturalist trivia, and practical wilderness tips, this entertaining and informative handbook is your guide to outdoor fun.

Jean Craighead George wrote over eighty popular books for young adults, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and the Newbery Honor book My Side of the Mountain. Most of her books deal with topics related to the environment and the natural world. While she mostly wrote children's fiction, she also wrote at least two guides to cooking with wild foods, and an autobiography, Journey Inward.

The mother of three children, (Twig C. George, Craig, and T. Luke George) Jean George was a grandmother who joyfully read to her grandchildren since the time they were born. Over the years Jean George kept one hundred and seventy-three 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 behaviour 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." 

Pocket Guide to the Outdoors is the hidden gem of Jean Craighead George. Most people have no idea that it exists, and if you are an outdoor enthusiast, then you need to pick up this book.

George shares practical knowledge she learned out in the wilderness on how to survive in the most vulnerable circumstances. Learn how to build fire, make a shelter from ferns, make your own clothing from animal skin, which plants are poisonous, edible, and medicinal, and even how to identify different species of birds from the pattern of their singing.

One of my favorite feats about Pocket Guide to the Outdoors is that George also includes scientific names. It's a wonderful ode to education when a reader can pick up on the multiple names given to a species simply because an author took the time to provide it. I love when authors do this. There are no live images in this book. If there are images, they are drawings. In a way, this makes it harder to identify what you are looking at, but it also adds charm to the overall feel of the guide.

When I go for a run, I always stop by the river that's surrounded by a wooded area. I've been able to use what I've learned in Pocket Guide to the Outdoors to go further into the wilderness because I was able to identify the plants I was walking through. I was even delighted to find that I could identify a few of the bird calls I heard while I was out. I love going outdoors and learning survival skills just for the heck of it, and this book has opened numerous doors for me. Not to mention, it takes My Side of the Mountain to a whole new level.

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, I would highly recommend this book. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable it is to be outside when you have a better understanding of your environment and how to utilize its resources.

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