Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Woods Runner

I'm reviewing a MG novella for a change.  I read the last 140 pages of Gary Paulsen's Woods Runner yesterday.  (I had read the first 20 pages two or three days earlier.)  It's a good book for it's age group.  Truthfully, it may be considered a chapter book due to it's 5th grade reading level.  I believe I bought it a few years ago at a book fair on the merit of its cover.

As far as characters go, I've seen better.  I've also seen a lot worse.  The protagonist is a good character for sure.  He had the potential to be a great character, but something held it back.  I think the problem may be the lack of body movement from him.  His heart never flutters, he never breaks into a cold sweat, his stomach never pulses with pain.  Those sorts of things really go over well with me.  One of the supporting characters was a minor star.  Everyone else served their purpose well enough.

The setting felt pretty strong to me.  It shares some qualities with fantasy: a world with rough roads, lots of trees, and scattered villages.  The sense of wonder wasn't as high, but it was great for historical fiction.

For a novella, the plot was solid.  It held short fiction focus with novel diversity (for example, having secondary characters appearing in a few scenes then being replaced by other secondary characters).  It's a good role-model for 5th grade English class for sure.

Gary Paulsen is one of the greats in the 11-year-old market.  This book does not disappoint.

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