Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Woods Runner

Paulsen, Gary. 2010.  Woods Runner. New York: Wendy Lamb.

At only thirteen years old, Samuel is already a man in some ways.  Born on the frontier, he is at home in the woods; hunting, tracking and providing for his family.  His parents have taught him to read, to be curious, to enjoy the hard work and simplicity of the frontier, but at heart, they are city-born, content to live at the edge of the great woods. Samuel, though, is perhaps even more at home in the woods than in his family's modest home.

So it is that Samuel is away hunting bear when the war comes to Western Pennsylvania.  Carefully deciphering the tracks and signs near the scorched earth of what was once their settlement, Samuel knows that his parents have been taken captive by British Redcoats and their Native allies.  Others from the settlement were not so lucky.  After burying the dead, Samuel sets out to find his parents - traveling eastward to the Redcoats stronghold, New York.

Like a Cold Mountain for teens and young adults, Woods Runner doesn’t recount the battles of war , but rather, its impact on civilian life.  Samuel, his parents, and his traveling companions do not fight in the war, but neither can they escape it.

     "It is the way of it," Abner put in from the darkness, "of war.  Some get, some don't, some live, some ... don't.  It's the way of it.
     "It's bad."
     "Yes. It is.  But it is our lot now, and we must live it."  Abner sighed. "The best we know how.”
A historical tale of action, suspense, determination and survival.  Single page entries of historical facts (ammunition, orphans, communication, etc.) separate the chapters and add background and perspective to this short, gripping story. History repeats itself every day in some location in the world.  It's good to remind ourselves sometimes of war's less visible consequences.  Highly recommended for grades 6 and up.

Read an excerpt from Woods Runner.

Bookpage has a great interview with Gary Paulsen.

Woods Runner, Three Rivers Rising, One Crazy Summer, The Keening, Countdown ... this has been a great year for historical fiction. I can’t wait to see what wins the Scott O’Dell Award.  It’s hard for me to pick a favorite.

I nominated this book for the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) in the Young Adult category.  Anyone can nominate books until October 15th.  Just be sure to read the nomination rules first.

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