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Woods Runnerby Gary Paulsen
Synopses & Reviews
He was not sure exactly when he became a child of the forest.
One day it seemed he was eleven and playing in the dirt around the cabin or helping with chores, and the next, he was thirteen, carrying a .40-caliber Pennsylvania flintlock rifle, wearing smoked-buckskin clothing and moccasins, moving through the woods like a knife through water while he tracked deer to bring home to the cabin for meat.
He sat now by a game trail waiting for the deer he knew would come soon. He had heard it, a branch brushing a hairy side, a twig cracking, smelled it when the wind blew toward him, the musk and urine of a buck. He checked the priming on his rifle while he waited, his mind and body relaxed, patient, ears and eyes and nose alert. Quiet. Every part of him at rest, yet focused and intense.
And he pictured his life, how he lived in two worlds.
Sometimes Samuel thought that a line dividing those worlds went right through their cabin. To the west, beyond the small parchment window made of grease-soaked sheepskin scraped paper-thin, lay the forest.
The forest was unimaginably vast, impenetrable, mysterious and dark. His father had told him that a man could walk west for a month, walk as fast as he could, and never see the sun, so high and dense was the canopy of leaves.
Even close to their homestead--twelve acres clawed out of the timber with a small log cabin and a lean-to for a barn--the forest was so thick that in the summer Samuel could not see more than ten or fifteen yards into it. Some oak and elm and maple trees were four and five feet in diameter and so tall and thickly foliaged their height could only be guessed.
A wild world.
And while there were trails made by game and sometimes used by natives, settlers or trappers, the paths wandered and meandered so that they were impossible to use in any sensible way. Except to hunt.
When he first started going into the forest, Samuel went only a short distance. That first time, though he was well armed with his light Pennsylvania rifle and dry powder and a good knife, he instantly felt that he was in an alien world.
As a human he did not belong. It was a world that did not care about man any more than it cared about dirt, or grass, or leaves. He did not get lost that first time, because he'd marked trees with his knife as he walked so he could find his way out; butstill, in some way he felt lost, as if, were he not careful, a part of him would disappear and never return, gone to the wildness. Samuel had heard stories of that happening to some men. They entered the forest to hunt or trap or look for new land to settleand simply vanished.
Gone to the woods, people said of them.
Some, he knew, were dead. Killed by accident, or panthers or bear or Indians. He had seen such bodies. One, a man mauled to death by a bear that had attacked his horse while the man was plowing; the man's head was eaten; another, killed by an arrow through the throat. An arrow, Samuel knew, that came out of the woods from a bow that was never seen, shot by a man who was never known. And when he was small, safe inside the cabin
Hunting for food to support his family on the frontier of an American colony far from the hostilities of the Revolutionary War, 13-year-old Samuel is astonished when his parents are arrested by soldiers, a situation that forces him to make his way to the British headquarters in New York City. By the author of Mudshark.
From his 1776 Pennsylvania homestead, thirteen-year-old Samuel, who is a highly-skilled woodsman, sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Indians who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community. Includes historical notes at the end of each chapter.
About the Author
Gary Paulsen is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people. His most recent books are Lawn Boy, The Amazing Life of Birds, and Mudshark.
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