Gary Paulsen has done it again. In Woods Runner (Scholastic 2010) he has combined outdoor survival with action-packed history. Who knew the American Revolution could be so exciting?
Samuel lives to hunt in the vast wilderness surrounding his parents’ cabin in their settlement in the British colonly of Pennsylvania. One day while he is out hunting, a band of British soldiers and their Iroquois allies attack the settlement. Samuel returns to find a scene of devestation. The only good news is that his parents have been taken prisoner rather than killed outright.
Samuel uses his hunting skills to track the army that has his parents. Along the way he must learn to distinguish between friend and enemy when they look very much alike. He battles the British and is taken in by friends of the Patriots before he finds his parents in the heart of British power, New York City.
Through Samuel’s story, Paulsen reveals the horror of war. This book has little of heroic battles or the great names you learn about in history books. Instead, he captures how war disrupts the lives of people trying to live out their daily lives.
In between each chapter Paulsen includes a historical note that gives background information relevant to the story. I enjoyed these extras. It would have been hard to weave so much historical information into the story, but the story is enriched for knowing it. Trust me, even this history is not the same as what you learn in yor history books.