Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

woods Woods Runner

Gary Paulsen

Wendy Lamb Books

January 2010

164 pgs.


From his 1776 Pennsylvania homestead, thirteen-year-old Samuel, who is a highly-skilled woodsman, sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Indians who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community. Includes historical notes.

My Thoughts

In the beginning I was bored with Woods Runner. I'm not really a huge fan of survival fiction but I do like some historical fiction. But, I thought the historical notes were distracting because they occur after each chapter. Then I noticed that they were pretty much geared towards what you just read, so they could actually add to the reading. But I didn't like that so I stopped reading them.

My impression of Woods Runner changed drastically after Sam went out hunting the bear. Oh.My.Word. The description of the raids and Sam following the raiders was amazing. I had to read with one eye closed and I had to keep some tissues nearby. Gary Paulsen's details add an additional dimension to the book that never felt intrusive. I could barely put the book down. I actually closed my office door and turned off the overhead light. I did not want to be disturbed.

Woods Runner gave me a different perspective on the Revolutionary War. I can't wait to hand this to the social studies teachers. I hope they add this as a reading choice when they study this time period. It's a fast read but it's not easy. The trauma Sam, his parents, and then Annie, experience is haunting. By having us follow Sam as he tries to track down his parents, Paulsen was able to insert the historical aspects without slowing down the story. We learned about the redcoats, their weaponry, the Hessians, war prisoners, and normal people who helped the Americans. It was a nice lesson and didn't feel like you were being "schooled".

I give this one 4 copies. I think it's better than last year's Notes From The Dog and more in keeping with Hatchet. Even if the teachers don't use it in class, I see it leaping off the shelves.


  1. Paulsen is one of the few authors that my son (11) will read. He is a reluctant reader and it just kills me that he can't get into reading. My daughter (6), no problem but the boy? UGH!

  2. Ti - Boys are hard! I frequently consult with two male teachers at our school (English and SS) for help. They share their thoughts about books I think would be good for boys and tell me WHY they like them. Often not how we think! Have you offered him Epic by Conor Kostick? If he plays video games - he will love it! Good sports books are Feinstein's books for MG and Lupica's books for MG.

  3. I almost picked this up at the book fair, but I had bought so many books already (11) that I passed on it. Now I think I might at least get it from the library.

    I remembered a while back you had Out of My Mind up on one of your WoW posts, which got me wanting to read it too.
    Well, not only have I read it but it is now one of my all time favs. I hope you will stop by for my interview with Sharon. Talk about a great lady!

    Have a great weekend

  4. This does sound like one that boys can relate to, so I could see it jumping off the shelves too.

  5. If you loved Out of My Mind, try Wonder by R.J. Palacio...also amazing and wonderful!


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