by Gary Paulsen
2010, 164 pages
Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction
Woods Runner was a great change of pace for me reading-wise. It seems like everything I’ve read lately is either dystopian fiction, fantasy, or a too sad realistic fiction. Despite the book being set during the War for Independence, no tears were shed during the reading.
I would describe this book as a cross between historical fiction and non-fiction. The clever way that Paulsen combines the story line of Samuel and his parents, interspersed with short, non-fiction accounts of the war will have this book flying out of your classroom library. It will definitely be more of a “boy” book, but your female readers who enjoy historical fiction will also like this book.
Reading this book, I was constantly struck by what a simple, yet brilliant way Paulsen has employed with the combination of fiction and non-fiction. As a format to help those readers new to some of the complexities of historical fiction, this type of book would be helpful to slowly provide the background information throughout the story. It’s making me think of all sorts of possibilities for historical fiction reads. Lily’s Crossing? hmmm…read along with short, reading-level appropriate passages explaining parts of World War II.
I hope this is just the beginning of a trend to combine fiction and non-fiction in an appealing and natural way for middle grade readers.