Wendy Lamb Books
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.
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.