Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

woods-runnerCindy: Gary Paulsen first achieved fame with his Newbery Honor winner Hatchet, a tale of young Brian’s wilderness survival. He also wrote the acclaimed Soldier’s Heart, illuminating the horrors of the Civil War. In Woods Runner (Random House/Wendy Lamb, 2010), he combines war historical fiction with his strong suit of wilderness survival in a slim, page-turning novel that his fan base will embrace. Set in 1776 when news wasn’t delivered 24/7 like it is today, Samuel doesn’t learn about the outbreak of war until he returns from hunting for the settlement and finds his small village burnt to the ground. When he doesn’t find his parents’ corpses among the rubble he hopes they have survived and he begins tracking the British soldiers and Iroquois to attempt to rescue his parents. Paulsen spins the story with his usual attention to detail and pacing, but in this case intersperses the chapters with short nonfiction passages that provide context for the Revolutionary War period. “Wounds,” “War Orphans,” and “Weapons” are sample subjects, just to pick on the Ws. 🙂

And that brings me to my question for you, dear readers. Do you like your fiction narrative broken up by nonfiction text? Earlier this year we reviewed Countdown by Deborah Wiles, which is even more entwined with realia than this novel. Do you stop and read the nonfiction essays or skip ahead to continue with the story? One of our teen book club members, a 6th grader, said she skipped over them first and read the fictional story and then went back to the beginning and read through the informational essays afterward. I listened to this book on audio so I didn’t skip around. Once I looked at the book and confirmed what Paulsen was doing, I happily went back to listening to it read straight through. What about you?

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen"

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  1. I have been a fan of Paulsen books since the beginning. I found that the nonfiction text simply added to the pacing and tension of the fiction storyline; not that it was needed in Woods Runner in the least. I know that this book is going to be a winner with many of my readers whether they are fans of his already or not.

  2. brentwoodblaze34@comcast.net' Tristan says:

    This was the first novel I have read by Gary, and with the combination of extreme hardship, in the reality of the historical time, it was one of the best novels in which I have ever read.

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