Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen


4 stars

     Samuel was a "child of the forest."  Living his entire life with his parents in a remote cabin located far from most civilization, Samuel knew the sounds, smells, and images of the forest.  He was an expert marksman and an excellent hunter - though only thirteen, his parents depended on his hunting skills for survival.  Samuel knew there were other worlds out there much different from his own - things he had only read about.  Despite that, Samuel was happy with the way things were.  Unfortunately, nothing stays the same and during the American Revolution, the madness resulting from the 8 year vicious, bloody war  would turn Samuel's way of life upside down.

   Samuel knew that something was wrong.  Hunting in the woods, Samuel suddenly felt uneasy.  After seeing smoke rise miles away, Samuel knew he had to return home quickly and check on his family.  What he found would change his life forever.  Samuel smelled the blood and smoke.  To his horror, Samuel finds his parent's cabin burned to the ground.  Samuel discovers the bodies....thankfully, not his parents, but his neighbors killed without mercy, hacked, shot. 

Samuel knows his parents were not left behind, but taken as prisoners of war by the British.  Despite the many dangers he would face, Samuel is determined to find his parents and set them free.  Together with Annie, a young girl left orphaned after the brutal attack and slaughter of her parents, Samuel embarks on his rescue mission - facing life-threatening dangers each day.  Samuel must determine who is an ally or an enemy, while using his surivial skills to keep Annie and himself alive.  The odds are greatly against Samuel surviving, but he is determined to find his parents and have his family together once again.

Gary Paulsen effectively weaves nonfiction facts, details, and statistics, along with Samuel's story, to unveil the brutalities and horrors experienced during the American Revolutionary War. 

*Recommended Read Aloud