out of 5
Review by Kelly
Woods Runner written by Gary Paulsen is a historical fiction novel based at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. A thirteen year old Samuel returns home from a hunting trip to find his parents have been taken captive and all of his neighbors have been murdered by British soldiers and paid Indians. Samuel instantly decides he will rescue his family at any cost. He will spend the next few weeks tracking the captors and in the process gain a scar on his forehead from an Indian Tomahawk, meet some friends who are intending on enlisting in the Rebel troops, meet a very welcoming family that is promptly murdered by Hessians, gains a sister-Annie, and meets a subversive old man all on is way to New York City to rescue his parents. Samuel shows great growth, intelligence, adaptability, and courage for a thirteen year old boy. Paulsen adds historical information at the end of each book such as what actually happened to captives of the British and military information about both sides of the war.
The only illustration of this novel is the cover, the image is only dark shadow and bright orange, it is a beautiful contrast that draws the eye in and invites the viewer to investigate the image. The illustration is a wonderful foreshadowing of the book in which the silhouettes of trees and a male figure carrying a long barreled rifle is back lit by a fire. In the novel Samuel never actually came upon a large fire but figuratively the fought fire throughout the book, the immensity and near futility of fight the British is like fighting a fire with only a gun.
I recommend this novel for 5th-6th graders due to the more violent images in the book. I think that older elementary school guys would like the historical facts as well as the action that never stops coming throughout the novel as a free-choice read. This is a fantastic historical fiction and i give it 5 of 5 stars. Paulsen has again demonstrated his ability to make his characters and scenes come to life.