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Sam Gribley is a city kid who runs away from his family and home in New York City to go to live in the woods in the Catskill Mountains. He takes only a penknife, a ball of cord, an ax, and $40. With these supplies, he has to cover the basics of life: food and shelter. The trees give him at least a little protection in the beginning. So finding food turns out to be a daily challenge. He has already read books about some survival skills, like what kinds of plants are edible in the wild, but he has never done anything like this on his own. He teaches himself how to prepare and eat a variety of wild foods: frogs’ legs, rabbits, violet tubers, cattail roots, and much more. He trains a young falcon he names Frightful to hunt for him. And he allows a young raccoon named Jessie Coon James to dig up mussels in the stream for him to eat, too. Some of Sam’s homemade recipes appear in the book. Learning how to survive in the wild is Sam’s biggest problem in this year-long adventure. And he does pretty well at it.
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