Friday, June 8, 2012

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen is an interesting guy.  He doesn't do public appearances very often because he is rather reclusive and likes to take long solitary trips in the wilderness.  We were lucky at the Provo Library to get him to visit a few years ago and he spoke just like he writes with a no-frills, warts-and-all frankness that is miles away from any attempts at "political correctness."  This is a different kind of book for him and a different kind of Revolutionary War narrative than I have ever read.  He states in an author note that he was trying to write an unvarnished view of what the Revolutionary War was like.  I get the feeling that he believes that children's books often over romanticize that war more than, perhaps, other wars because it is connected with the founding of our nation and our national identity.  In this story, a boy, Samuel, lives on the frontier.  One day while he is out hunting a group of Hessian mercenaries come and slaughter most of the people in his little town, and take his parents captive. Samuel sets off on a perilous trip to try to free his parents from the British.  In between each chapter Paulsen includes often gruesome historical facts about how British treated prisoners, and how many died in overcrowded prison camps and the like.  It is a book that will appeal to boys and really does offer a whole new perspective on the Revolutionary war. (164 p)

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