Julie of the Wolves

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Julie of the Wolves
First edition cover
Author Jean Craighead George
Illustrator John Schoenherr
Julek Heller (1976, UK)[1]
Cover artist Schoenherr
Country United States
Series Julie of the Wolves
Genre Children's novel, survival fiction[2]
Publisher Harper & Row[2]
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 170 pp (first ed.)[2]
ISBN 0-06-021943-2
OCLC 578045
LC Class PZ7.G2933 Ju[2]
Followed by Julie

Julie of the Wolves is a children's novel by Jean Craighead George, published by Harper in 1972 with illustrations by John Schoenherr. Set on the Alaska North Slope, it features a young Iñupiaq girl experiencing the changes forced upon her culture from outside.[3] George wrote two sequels that were originally illustrated by Wendell Minor: Julie (1994), which starts 10 minutes after the first book ends – Julie's Choice in the U.K.[4] – and Julie's Wolf Pack (1997), which is told from the viewpoint of the wolves.


In 1971, Jean Craighead George and her son, Luke went on a trip to Barrow, Alaska, to do research on wolves for an article for Reader's Digest.[5] As they flew into the Barrow airport, she and her son spotted a young Eskimo girl on the tundra, whom her son said "looked awfully little to be out there by herself".[5][6] At the Barrow Arctic Research Lab, George observed scientists who were studying wolves and attempting to break their communication code.[6][7] She allegedly witnessed a man bite the wolf on the top of its nose and communicate with it in soft whimpers, and "the incident stayed with George".[8] George herself successfully communicated with a female wolf, and upon remembering the Eskimo girl walking by herself on the tundra that she and her son Luke saw on their way to Barrow, she decided to write a book about a young girl surviving on her own in the tundra by communicating with wolves.[6][7] The character of Miyax/Julie is based on an Eskimo woman named Julia Sebevan, who taught George "about the old ways of the Eskimos".[5]

In the process of writing the novel, George went through three drafts, and used numerous titles including "The Voice of the Wolf"; "Wolf! Wolf?"; "Wolf Girl"; "The Cry of the Wolf"; and "Wolf Song".[8]

Readers and students communicated to George their desire to read more about Julie "several years ago", but George felt that she "did not know enough about the Eskimo culture". It was only after her son, Craig, moved to Alaska that George "felt ready" to write the sequel titled Julie.[5][7] Julie's Wolf Pack was written only after George had learned more about the relationships of wolves in a pack.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

The story has three parts, from her present situation (Amaroq, the Wolf), then a flashback (Miyax, the Girl), and finally back to the present (Kapugen, the Hunter).

Julie/Miyax is an Eskimo girl torn between modern Alaska and the old Eskimo tradition. Left with her father, Kapugen, after losing her mother; Julie became intelligent, observant, and one with the Arctic tundra. Years later, her father went out on a seal hunt one day, only for bits of his boat to be found washed ashore and no sign of him.

Miyax was sent to live with Aunt Martha, a distant and cold woman. She was told that at the age of 13, she could leave her Aunt's house if she wed a boy named Daniel; Miyax did just that. However, when she arrived, she realized that Daniel was feeble minded. Caught in an unbearable situation, she runs away, in hope of leaving to stay with her pen-pal in San Francisco, California.

When Miyax ran away, she realized she would need to find a way to maintain good health. She learned how to communicate with the wolves to receive food, water, and family: all the necessities. However, when a chance to return to modern Eskimo society appears, she is torn. Will she be Miyax of the Eskimos, or Julie of the wolves?

The author engages the reader by creating an intelligent young girl face to face with dangerous, even life-threatening challenges. It allows the reader to form an emotional attachment to Miyax.


The book was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1973,[9] and was a nominee under the Children's Books category in the 1973 National Book Awards.[10] Mary Ellen Halvorson describes the book as "uniquely sensitive" and "wonderfully educational" in a review for The Courier.[11] The book also won the 1975 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.[12]

The inclusion of Julie of the Wolves in elementary school reading lists has been challenged several times due to parental concerns regarding the attempted rape of the main character.[13] One of these incidents occurred in March 1996, when the book was removed from the sixth grade reading list in Pulaski Township, Pennsylvania, at the behest of parents who "complained of a graphic marital rape scene in the book".[13] It is number 32 on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999.[14]

2003 edition cover

Publication history[edit]

  • 1972, USA, Harper and Row, ISBN 0-06-021943-2, Pub date 1972, Hardcover
  • 1974, USA, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-440058-1, Pub date February 10, 1974, Paperback
  • 1985, USA, HarperTrophy ISBN 0-06-021943-2, Pub date 1985, Paperback
  • 1977, Canada, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 0-88-902374-3, Pub date 1977, Paperback
  • 1997, USA, HarperTrophy ISBN 0-06-440058-1, Pub date June 6, 1997, Paperback
  • 2003, USA, HarperTeen ISBN 0-06-054095-8, Pub date September 16, 2003, Paperback

Since its first publication, Julie of the Wolves has also been published in at least thirteen other languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Turkish, Chinese, and Japanese.[15]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

Julie of the Wolves has been adapted into a musical play, directed by Peter Dalto and written by Barbara Dana, with music by Chris Kubie and choreography by Fay Simpson.[16][17] The musical stars Briana Sakamoto as Julie, and a workshop production was held on May 16, 2004, at The Northern Westchester Center for the Arts' Kaufman Theater.[18] As of November 2005, Kubie notes on his website that "the journey of Julie Of The Wolves (the musical) continues as the writer Barbara Dana, prepares yet another rewrite."[17]

Jean Craighead George announced in November 2007 that the book is being adapted into a film by Robert and Andy Young Productions Inc.[19] Andy Young traveled to Nunavut in 2008 with the intention of finding a young Inuk or Inupiat to play the role of Julie, but stated in April 2008 that he was in discussion with a non-Inuk to play the role because they "didn't find the person that we felt was going to breathe the right kind of feeling into the story", and because they had resistance from would-be investors to using a first-time actress for the film. Young had also intended to shoot the film in Nunavut, but is considering shooting in Alaska because of the lack of roads joining Nunavut to Southern Canada as well as the area's "limited financial incentives for filmmakers from outside the territory".[20]


  1. ^ "Julie of the wolves" (1976 British edition). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 2015-11-10.
  2. ^ a b c d "Julie of the wolves" (first edition). LC Online Catalog. Retrieved 2015-11-10. With a later publisher description.
  3. ^ Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature.
  4. ^ "Julie of the wolves" (1973 British edition). LC Online Catalog. Retrieved 2015-11-10. "Sequel: Julie's choice. 1994."
  5. ^ a b c d e Denega, Danielle (2004). A Reading Guide to Julie of the Wolves (PDF). Scholastic Inc. p. 64. ISBN 0-439-53835-1. 
  6. ^ a b c Finn, Perdita (2001). Julie of the Wolves: Everything You Need for Successful Literature Circles That Get Kids Thinking, Talking, Writing-and Loving Literature. Teaching Resources/Scholastic. p. 32. ISBN 0-439-16359-5. 
  7. ^ a b c "Jean Craighead George – Questions and Answers". Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  8. ^ a b Silvey, Anita (2005). 100 Best Books for Children: A Parent's Guide to Making the Right Choices for Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen. Houghton Mifflin Books. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-618-61877-5. 
  9. ^ "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
  10. ^ "National Book Awards – 1973". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  11. ^ Halvorson, Mary Ellen (January 7, 1993). "Alaskan adventure teaches good lesson". The Courier. p. 5B. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  12. ^ Deutscher Jugendbuchpreis (1956-1980) (PDF), Nürnberg Online, p. 3 
  13. ^ a b Foerstel, Herbert (2002). Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. Greenwood Press. pp. 254–55. ISBN 0-313-31166-8. 
  14. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999". Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  15. ^ "Formats and Editions of Julie of the wolves". WorldCat. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  16. ^ Mohn, Tanya (September 21, 2003). "After All the Books, Turning to the Adventure of a Musical". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  17. ^ a b Kubie, Chris (November 15, 2005). "Chris Kubie: Very Visual Music". Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  18. ^ Hershenson, Roberta (May 9, 2004). "footlights". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  19. ^ "Jean Craighead George – What's New". Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  20. ^ "Finances hold back 2 high-profile Nunavut film shoots". CBC News. April 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Slave Dancer