December 23, 2013
Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Happy Monday! Even though I haven't linked up for a couple weeks, I HAVE been reading.
In class, we finished reading Gary Paulsen's Woodsong last week. I have to admit that I wasn't very eager to read this one because I'm just not a nature person. Survival stories, which are Paulsen's specialty, are just not my thing. I also wasn't convinced my suburban students would be able to relate to the story, so I was apprehensive as we began Chapter 1... and soon after, I found myself surprised at how much I was enjoying the book.
From the School Library Journal:
An autobiographical book that gives through spare but vivid language a look at a man who thought, because he was a hunter and a trapper, that he knew about the outdoors. Instead, he discovered he knew very little until he opened himself to the realities of predators and prey, and to the lessons taught to him by the animals he encountered and the sled dogs he trained and raced. This is not a life story, with dates and names and achievements, but rather Paulsen's reflections on the peculiarities and surprises of nature. Some of the lessons are violent and painful, brought on by the natural instincts of wild animals or Paulsen's own mistakes; others are touching or humorous, and convey a sharp sense of observation and awareness of the various personality traits of the dogs he has raised and run. And some are unexplainable--mysteries of nature that would seem incredible if written in a work of fiction. The anecdotal style and rhythmic, sometimes abrupt sentence structure demand close attention, and the switch in the last third of the book to Paulsen's day-by-day account of the Iditarod is sudden, though expected. The Iditarod story is intensely personal, focusing on Paulsen's thoughts, actions, and hallucinations during those 17 days rather than presenting a comprehensive view of the race and the competitors. Both segments of the book generate wonder at the abilities of animals and should introduce fans of Paulsen's fiction to a different type of writing. --Susan Schuller, Milwaukee Public Library
Our students completed a supplementary WebQuest on the Iditarod as we read through this novel and also enjoyed watching both Balto (before reaing) and Iron Will (after the test), making the stories come alive.
For me, this was, surprisingly, a great read.