Rummanah Aasi
  I've gotten a great response from reviewing challenged books and though I'm not participating in any banned/challenged books this year, I do plan on continuing reviewing these books as I think it's important information to know. I am even considering making it my own meme/feature for my blog. What do you think?

Description: While running away from home and an unwanted marriage, a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl becomes lost on the North Slope of Alaska and is befriended by a wolf pack.

Review: During my younger reluctant reading days, I was handed a copy of Julie of the Wolves to read since I absolutely loved and adored Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins and was hoping to read a similar story. I did not finish Julie of the Wolves because the plot moved too slowly for me and I couldn't connect with Julie at all.
  Now after several years I tried Julie of Wolves again since it is one of the most frequently and prominent children's book that has challenged. Looking at the reasons listed for the challenges, I quickly realized that this book is one that I ought to know about.
  Though I still find the plot pacing to be very slow and found the protagonist to be a bit aloof, I immediately drawn into her desperate situation. In the first half of the book, she is alone and struggles to befriend a pack of wolves in the snowy backdrop of Alaska in the hopes that the wolves would give her food and their protection. She spends a lot of trying to understand the wolves' behavior in efforts to communicate with them. Slowly, the wolves become somewhat comfortable around her. Soon the wolves become an allegory of her troubling family situations.
  Julie of the Wolves is a many layered adventure story that also brushes upon colonialism and self discovery just to name a few. For example Julie's real name is Miyax but she is called Julie when she goes to school where she learns how to read and write English. Miyax is torn between abandoning her "old" Eskimo customs and culture in order to become more "civilized" in the modern world of the white-man “gussak". Though she enjoys and is successful at learning English, she is taken out of school because she has become a marriageable age. Troubling home situation after another, Miyax runs away into the Alaskan wilderness and must decide for herself what life she wants to lead. Although the climax and the ultimate ending of the story seem troubling, bleak, and unsatisfying, it speaks of  Miyax's maturity and her newly gained independence.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Why it was challenged: Julie of the Wolves is listed at #32 on the ALA's most frequently challenged books 1990-1999 and #91 on the 2000-2009  list. The reasons for the book challenged are: references to alcoholism, divorce, abuse  (therefore, anti-family), for sexual content, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group. Source: Marshall Library and MVCC library guide.

Words of Caution: There are allusions to adult alcoholism and a glimpse of domestic abuse. Recommended for Grades 7 and up. The most notable scene which the challenges are referring to is that of Miyax's marriage to Daniel, a boy who is described as "mentally slow" and that of her in-laws. Daniel's father is an alcoholic and we learn that Eskimos have a low tolerance to alcohol. Daniel's father becomes an angry drunk and hits his wife. The readers don't see this happening but we hear it from one of Miyax's friends. Meanwhile Daniel storms home and is angry that people from his village are making fun of him that he can't please his wife. In a fit, Daniel pushes Miyax down and rips her shirt. Many readers have construed this small scene as rape, but when I read this scene I didn't find any contextual clues to suggest this. Not to condone his behavior, Daniel jumps up and says "he can" and soon leaves. The author has said that she needed a very urgent and important event happen to Julie in order to motivate her to leave her situation and find her own life as family is extremely important to the Eskimo culture.

If you like this book try: Julie (Julie of the Wolves #2) by Jean Craighead George, Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
5 Responses
  1. I've heard of this one and I don't get why it was banned... but then I don't get why just about any book is banned. These things happen in families. I don't know if I'd read this one because it is so slow, but I do enjoy your look into banned books. Brilly!


  2. Yes, I do enjoy this feature and it is always eye opening to see why people want to ban a book so please do a meme on it. I am always stunned at some of the reasoning. Like it or not all of the issues you mentioned as to why people want this banned are very prevalent in our society today even though this book was written how long ago... I have not heard of this one before but I am most curious. Thanks for the insight!


  3. Huh. I never thought of this as a type of book that would be challenged. I read it years ago. I remember liking it but not loving it. Probably because it's slow.
    Did you like My Side of the Mountain as a kid? I loved it.


  4. MZMollyTL Says:

    I'll be doing a censorship/banning unit with my students soon and I found this on my shelf to use. It'd be interesting to have a regular feature on your blog (maybe my students could even help to write some entries as part of their final task?)


  5. I'm think I've read this one and liked it but can't remember for sure. Ugh, I hate when that happens!


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