The most recent episode of the radio show Science Friday (4/11/14) includes a piece about Jean Craighead George’s latest book, Ice Whale. George’s My Side of the Mountain was granted the Newbery Honor in 1960, and her Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973. She died in 2012 at 92, and Ice Whale was completed posthumously by her daughter Twig, a librarian and children’s book author, and her son Craig, a wildlife biologist. Released this month by Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers this book, like George’s others, builds on her — and her children’s — rich knowledge of the natural world and compassion for its denizens. Centered on a bowhead whale, an animal that lives for hundreds of years, the story spans generations and cultures.
Science Friday’s interview with Twig and Craig offers a sweet glimpse into life growing up in the George family’s naturalist- and pet-heavy household. You get a sense that the incomplete manuscript was something of a gift for her children and that working on it, together, was like a little extra time with her.
The podcast is just 15 minutes (I wanted more), and Science Friday has also provided a short excerpt of the book.