Growing up in the frontier wilderness of western Pennsylvania, 13-year-old Samuel hears little about the growing conflict between the American colonies and the British. One fateful day, however, the war comes to him. His home is burned, his parents taken captive, and his whole world turned on end. With little more than his rifle and the moccasins on his feet, Samuel must make his way to New York City to rescue his parents from the British stronghold. But although Samuel is well versed in the challenges of the woods, the city holds dangers – and discoveries – beyond anything he has imagined.
Gary Paulsen brings us another action-filled adventure story, packed with historic detail on topics as diverse as firearms and spy networks, cooking and couriers. The nonfiction segments interspersed between the chapters do make the narrative somewhat choppy, and Paulsen’s condemnation of all warfare – emphasized not only in the story itself, but also in an introductory letter, author’s note, and afterword – is anything but subtle. Nonetheless, Paulsen has given us an unusual view of the Revolutionary War, focused not just on the famous East Coast events but also on the guerrilla battles on the frontier. Woods Runner is a good pick for young male readers craving lots of action – or for anyone interested in learning about another side of America’s War for Independence.