Description: The year is 1776 and the American Revolution is underway. 13 year old Samuel is a highly-skilled woodsman, who returns from a journey to find his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. He hear news that his parents may be alive in New York City. He sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Native Americans who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community.
Review: Woods Runner is a riveting account of the Revolutionary War. Paulsen’s narrative weaves a frank and deglorified depiction of the American Revolution that many of us do not find in our history textbooks. In an author’s note, Paulsen indicates that his purpose is not to rewrite the war, but rather clarify some aspects of it to the reader. He definitely succeeds.
The main story of Woods Runner revolves around a 13 year old boy named Samuel who feels right at home with hunting and living in the wilderness. When Samuel is on a fun excursion, he hears word of an uprising in Concord and Lexington, areas close to home. Afraid of his parents and his community, he rushes back to check if everyone is okay. Sadly, he finds his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. Samuel’s anguish is unimaginable and it’s an emotional punch to the gut. He uses his woodsman skills along with alliances with some unlikely people to tracks his captured parents who may be taken to British-held New York. It’s is Samuel’s bravery, hope, and the goodness of humanity that upliftings this dark book. He reminds us that there are many ways one can be a hero.
Readers who are in the search for a page turning, heart pumping adventure/survival story will really like Woods Runner. Learning about the American Revolution is just an added bonus.
Readalikes: Chains or Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson or My brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier