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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Woods Runner* by Gary Paulsen- young adult book review
Also by Gary Paulsen:

Road Trip

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas

Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed

Lawn Boy Returns

The Amazing Life of Birds: The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech


Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers

Lawn Boy
Woods Runner
by Gary Paulsen
Grades 6-9 176 pages Wendy Lamb Books January 2010 Hardcover    

Prolific author Gary Paulsen has crafted an outstanding, fast-paced historical novel for middle-school readers.

Annotated with historical notes before each chapter, Woods Runner is the story of 13-year-old Samuel, who lives on the American frontier and must face the brutal realities of the Revolutionary War. Unlike his parents, intellectuals who came to the forest to escape city life, Samuel has a unique understanding of nature, a gift for hunting, and a sheer love and respect for the woods.

One day while hunting, Samuel spots smoke in the distance: the British have attacked his family’s small settlement, slaughtered his neighbors and burned the buildings. Through careful investigation, Samuel concludes that his parents have been taken prisoner.

After burying the dead and regaining his composure, Samuel cautiously follows the trail left by the British with the intent to free his parents. Eventually he reaches a second ravaged settlement and ends up caring for a young girl orphaned by a similar attack.

As the two children continue their journey, they narrowly avoid the British and team up with an old man, an itinerate patriot who helps them get to New York City where most prisoners are being held. Relatively easily, Samuel finds his mother, helps his father to escape and eventually they make their way to safety in Philadelphia. The epilogue serves to satisfy the reader’s interest in what happens to Samuel and his family when the war ends.

Samuel is a remarkably mature and skilled boy. His story is relatively straightforward, incorporating his survival skills with historical events and portraying the effects of war on a personal level. Through his experiences, the reader can begin to grasp the complex elements of war as they relate to civilians – treatment of prisoners and the wounded, war orphans, sanitary conditions, etc. - with nonfiction narratives corresponding to the chapters of Samuel’s life.

More importantly, Samuel represents the strength and ingenuity of the American people who sacrificed so much for our freedom. A creative teacher will be able to incorporate Woods Runner into the study of the American Revolution, making history much more memorable and personal than a textbook. Relatively short chapters and historical notes provide ample opportunity for directed student discussion. Highly recommended.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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