Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Woods Runner

Paulsen, Gary. 2010. WOODS RUNNER. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375859083 [Suggested Grade Levels 6–12]

Paulsen creates another authentic historical tale, this time set during the American Revolutionary period. The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Sam, is most comfortable in the woods outside his frontier home and adept at hunting and tracking, skills that will become even more useful when he finds his home burned to the ground and his parents kidnapped and all the neighbors nearby slaughtered. From here, the pace is riveting, with Sam tracking his parents, falling in with Iroquois, avoiding mercenary Hessians, and befriended by unlikely rebels. Unexpected examples of heroism big and small culminate in the rescue of his parents and aligning with a revolutionary movement.

Paulsen offers historical notes interspersed within the narrative, giving the reader a moment to catch one’s breath and adding to a deeper understanding of the greater historical context.

Readers may want to pick up on the factual historical notes Paulsen provides and dig further into the details of the war, the resistance, and the various players (Iroquois, Hessians, etc.) Look up the locations on a map to study the paths each would take (on horseback or on foot) as outlined in the story.

Other historical novels by Gary Paulsen:
NIGHTJOHN. ISBN 9780440219361
SARNY. ISBN 9780440219736
SOLDIER’S HEART. ISBN 9780440228387

By Sylvia M. Vardell

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