Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In his foreword to The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams, Robert M. McClung explicitly states that the book omits many aspects of the trapper’s life to concentrate on certain major expeditions and his experiences with bears. While biographical in nature, the book is at heart, as the title suggests, a compendium of exciting adventures in the wilderness.

Spanning roughly two hundred pages, The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams is divided into twenty-two chapters with interesting titles reflecting the places, characters, or adventures that they depict. Scattered throughout the text are twenty-six illustrations, mostly sketches, taken (as noted in the acknowledgments) from a variety of authentic historical sources, with simple captions. Several maps help the reader to follow Adams’ routes across the West. The book ends with a good, briefly annotated bibliography of thirty-one books and articles, more than half of which are from Adams himself, and McClung freely quotes from Adams’ writings throughout the narrative. There is also a handy index and a group of twenty-five informative notes signaled at various points in the text.

The narrative itself is easy to read and full of interesting details. McClung begins the story in 1860 with John “Grizzly” Adams’ relocation to New York with his “California Menagerie” and then picks up in the second chapter with his New England childhood, his early exploits, and his move...

(The entire section is 435 words.)