Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.
I wish I had a picture to share, but I forgot to bring my camera. It was a wonderful sight to see the kids in their book club, having a great time. There were about 10 or so kids there (ages 10 to 12, boys and girls). They had their meeting outside encircling a firepit, making them feel more a part of the book. One of the moms introduced a question to discuss and then the kids took turns discussing it. Sample questions: What three things would you bring with you if you ran away to the woods? How did you feel about the ending of the book? After all the discussion questions and everyone having their chance to participate, they roasted marshmallows - a great way to end the night.
My son enjoyed the book. He was actually much more engaged in this book than he was with Sign of the Beaver. He didn't love the ending, but that led to some great discussion about it. I'd definitely recommend this book for a book club choice (or just to read alone).