Rummanah Aasi
  Gary Paulsen is my go-to author for young readers who love reading adventure/survival stories. His Newberry Honor book Hatchet is one of my favorite books that I read in 5th grade. I had his latest book, Woods Runner, on my to be read pile last year but never got around to reading it until now. Thankfully, it's on the Rebecca Caudill list for this year.

Description: The year is 1776 and the American Revolution is underway. 13 year old Samuel is a highly-skilled woodsman, who returns from a journey to find his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. He hear news that his parents may be alive in New York City. He sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Native Americans who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community.

Review: Woods Runner is a riveting account of the Revolutionary War. Paulsen's narrative weaves a frank and deglorified depiction of the American Revolution that many of us do not find in our history textbooks. In an author's note, Paulsen indicates that his purpose is not to rewrite the war, but rather clarify some aspects of it to the reader. He definitely succeeds.
 The main story of Woods Runner revolves around a 13 year old boy named Samuel who feels right at home with hunting and living in the wilderness. When Samuel is on a fun excursion, he hears word of an uprising in Concord and Lexington, areas close to home. Afraid of his parents and his community, he rushes back to check if everyone is okay. Sadly, he finds his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. Samuel's anguish is unimaginable and it's an emotional punch to the gut. He uses his woodsman skills along with alliances with some unlikely people to tracks his captured parents who may be taken to British-held New York. It's is Samuel's bravery, hope, and the goodness of humanity that upliftings this dark book. He reminds us that there are many ways one can be a hero.
  Readers who are in the search for a page turning, heart pumping adventure/survival story will really like Woods Runner. Learning about the American Revolution is just an added bonus. I also think it the book will be a great classroom read.

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies

Words of Caution: Since the book takes place during the Revolutionary War, there is strong war violence. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Chains or Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson or My brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
9 Responses
  1. ComaCalm Says:

    I don't usually go for this sort of book but after reading this review I think I may enjoy it, so I'll add it to my wishlist - thanks! :D

    ComaCalm's Corner


  2. Jenny Says:

    Just reading that he came home to find his house burned down and his family missing gave me chills. Poor boy! I can't even imagine something like that. This sounds like a really great book:)


  3. Lauren M Says:

    Wow, Woods Runner sounds really good! I love stories set in the past, and it's neat to hear that Paulsen succeeded in clarifying certain aspects of the American Revolution for younger readers!
    Great review. :)


  4. Ahhhh, the Hatchet - I've never read it, but every guy I know lists it as their younger years favorite! I love colonial and early-US MG and YA fiction, so I am uber excited to learn about this one! Thanks!

    PS - did you ever read Elizabeth George Speare's "Calico Captive"? Loves that one! Oh, or "I Am Regina" by Sally Keehn? Loved them both!


  5. ComaCalm: I'm looking forward to reading your review when you get the chance to read it.

    Jenny: Yep, me too. It was really scary and very sad.

    Lauren: There's a lot about the American Revolution that I didn't know about and learned from this book.

    Linds: I loved Hatchet and recommend to younger readers all the time. I haven't read either of those titles. I'm going to look them up right now. :) Thanks for the recommendations!


  6. Great review. I love a book that gets my heart pumping and on the edge of my seat.


  7. Alison Says:

    This sounds very interesting. I've never been a huge Paulsen fan because I'm not into outdoorsy stuff, but this mixes history with some of Paulsen's woodsiness. This sounds like a great adventure story.


  8. Anonymous Says:

    This book is descriptive but dangerous too.


  9. Anonymous Says:

    I truly hated this book from te min. I picked it up I wish whoever wrote it is happy with it


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