cover image Frightful's Mountain

Frightful's Mountain

Jean Craighead George. Dutton Books, $18.99 (258pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46166-1

Like the conclusion of George's Julie of the Wolves trilogy (Julie's Wolf Pack), this third book in the cycle that began with My Side of the Mountain is told almost exclusively from the point of view of the wildlife. As the novel opens, Frightful, Sam Gribley's peregrine falcon, is being held captive by poachers. The falcon thinks only of returning to Sam, in a riff that recurs throughout the novel (""She was... searching for the one mountain, the one tree, and Sam""). Once Alice, Sam's sister, frees the falcon, much of the tension in the novel relates to whether or not Frightful can make it on her own. George builds the suspense in a third-person narration that most often takes the falcon's perspective, as Frightful hesitates between returning to Sam (who can no longer harbor her) and following the instincts of her breed as a male attempts to court her. The writing is not as fluid here; the pacing bogs down in occasional asides that fill in subplots or conservation issues (e.g., the spring return of Lady, one of Frightful's ""adopted"" falcon fledglings, occasions a prolonged discussion of DDT). However, details of peregrine migration, mating and nesting rituals are seamlessly woven into the plot, in which Frightful is threatened both by construction workers and the infamous poachers. Nature lovers will not be disappointed. Age 9-up. (Sept.)