“The Woods Runner” by Gary Paulsen

The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Samuel is a young man living on the edge of the Pennsylvania frontier with his parents in 1776 at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  Adept at hunting and comfortable in the woods, Samuel is out tracking game when he sees smoke rising on the horizon and realizes that Native Americans, allies with the British, have attacked his house.  Learning that the British have captured his parents, Samuel must make his way to New York City and attempt to free them.  Along the way he meets friends that will help him in his journey to restore some sense of peace to his life and the nation at large.

My Take:  This is a short and enjoyable book for teens looking for a slice of life during Revolutionary War times.  Between chapters there are short sections filled with facts and information on the era.  Paulsen also includes some graphic scenes of massacres, so this should probably be recommended for ages 13+.

One Interesting Note About the Author:  Gary Paulsen worked a series of odd jobs, including running dogs in the Alaskan Iditarod, before settling on writing.  Of the transition, he says on his website that “”I started to focus on writing the same energies and efforts that I was using with dogs. So we’re talking 18-, 19-, 20-hour days completely committed to work. Totally, viciously, obsessively committed to work, the way I’d run dogs….I still work that way, completely, all the time. I just work. I don’t drink, I don’t fool around, I’m just this way….The end result is there’s a lot of books out there.” He also says that his best advice to children is to “read like a wolf eats.”

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