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Tuesday Top Twenty: I Know What you Read this Summer!

Well,  I don’t know what you read this summer, so I can’t write about that.

But, I do know what I read this past summer.  I was busy alright!  This is not a Top Ten today, it’s a list of the twenty (yes twenty) books I read this summer.

1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

2. Rumors by Anna Godbersen

3. Dark Life by Kat Falls

4. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

5. The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

6. Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid of Westminster by Berkley Breathed

7. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

8. Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson

9. Scat by Carl Hiaasen

10. Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

11. The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

12. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

13. Bystander by James Preller

14. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

15. Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arther Slade

16. Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

17. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

18. One False Note by Gordon Korman

19. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

20. The Help by Katheryn Stockett  (The only adult fiction I read all summer!)

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War Isn’t Pretty: Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

War is not pretty.  It is not easy.  It is not comfortable.

Thirteen year old Samuel Smith grew up in the wilderness of the Pennsylvania colony.  Sam loves the woods.  He loves hunting, tracking and providing for his bookish parents.

But the year is 1776 and one day Sam’s comfortable life is taken away from him.  Returning from an extra long hunting trip Sam finds his home ransacked and burned, his neighbors murdered and his parents missing.  Sam knows that he must find his parents, so using his tracking and survival skills he sets off to find  and rescue his parents from the English Redcoats and their Indian allies.

Through his journey Sam meets with others affected by the Revolutionary War; men joining the American side, families escaping the Hessians and English troops, and those trying to survive when their whole world has been turned upside down by war.

Paulsen manages to write a historical fiction novel for teens that is pretty fast-paced and adventurous (I’m not surprised with his massive list of past works).  What I, as an educator, really, really love about Woods Runner is that Paulsen includes intercalary chapters that provide readers with information about the Revolutionary War on a  bigger scale than just Sam’s story.  I frequently see students who have little to no background knowledge struggle while attempting to read and create a context for a historical fiction novel.  Whats so (soooooooooooo) incredibly helpful is that Paulsen provides the context and background information for the reader so they don’t have to guess, wonder or be confused.  Paulsen even explains in his Author’s Note that he wants “readers to understand what it was really like to live on the frontier at that time with…no money, no electricity, no towns, [and] few neighbors”.

Although Paulsen does portray the realism of life during the Revolutionary War well, he also does so with the knowledge that this book is intended for middle grades readers; i.e. the violence is not described graphically.

I’m hoping that my students will get past the “history=boring” mindset and read this novel because I really think they’d enjoy it if they give it a chance.  Plus the way Paulsen describes the war…its not boring!  This book would also be an excellent addition to a middle school level American History curriculum, especially with the intercalary chapters (the lesson plan possibilities floating around in my mind are endless!!)