In a memoir, author Gary Paulsen tells tof his intimate relationship with Minnesota’s north woods and the dog team he trained for the Iditarod dogsled race. Woodsong has ratings and reviews. Autumn said: Gary Paulsen, three-time Newbery Honor author, is no stranger to adventure. He has flown off the. Woodsong is a book of memoirs by Gary Paulsen. The first half consists of Paulsen’s early experiences running sled dogs in Minnesota and then in Alaska, and.

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Preview — Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. He has flown off the back garg a dogsled and down a frozen waterfall to near disaster, and waited for a giant bear to seal his fate with one slap of a claw. He has led a team of sled dogs toward the Alaskan Mountain Range in an Iditarod — the grueling, 1,mile dogsled race — hallucinating from lack of sleep, but he determined to finish.

Here, in vivid detail, Paulsen recounts several of the remarkable experiences that shaped his life and inspired his award-winning writing. Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Woodsongplease sign up. What’s the problem in this book it looks interesting but I just want to see what’s it usually gonna be about. Kristin I think it was he got stuck in the artic wilderness, I read this in and Prettysure my whole class didn’t like it. See all 8 questions about Woodsong…. Lists with This Book. Mar 29, Autumn rated it really liked it. This is very good, but in some ways, a challenging read for what appears to be a children’s book.

The first half of the book is a series of short essays Paulsen wrote about training his sled dogs. He writes about odd things that happened to him while on runs and in the woods, the brutality of nature and what his dogs taught him. Some of the essays, actually, most of them, have one thing or another that was difficult to read.

He really doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of the natural world. Tha Ppaulsen is very good, but pauulsen some ways, a challenging read for what appears to be a children’s book. That’s why this short book took me a while to get through- I loved his descriptions of his dogs, and their funny sides, their wisdom and strength, and he draws so much from his experiences with the dogs, but there were a few scenes woodsohg made me face a side of nature I don’t usually like to think about- wolves feasting on a deer, the death of a beloved dog, etc.

The book is also funny at times and a couple of choice stories and phrases had me laughing out loud. The second half of the book is in seventeen parts, one part for each day woodsonf Paulsen’s first stab at the Iditarod. This could have been a book in itself, the chapters are brief and actually I wish he would have drawn this out more and made it its own book.

He’s a children’s author, but I can’t decide what to make of this book because although it is appears to be like a children’s book or, like his other books, I should sayand a sixth grader could read it, some of the things he write about paulxen so upsetting, and so dark, that I personally think it would be hard for a younger child to read and process.

Maybe I’m just sensitive where animals are concerned. The chapter about his beloved dog who could not turn east when he died was just heartbreaking. I also have a soft spot for Gary Paulsen because when I was in sixth grade, we read Hatchet, and I decided to write to him. At the time I believe he was living in Minnesota. He actually wrote back to me with a hand-signed, personal letter. I will never forget that!

At the height of his acclaim in the pauslen and into the ’90s, three-time Newbery Honoree Gary Paulsen was compared to some of the finest names in the history of American children’s literature.

Not only that, but the comparisons were to a diverse array of accomplished writers, indicating a versatility perhaps unequalled among his contemporaries. There was likeness drawn to the legendary Jack London, whose prolific output and sensitivity to the natural world’s underlying wisdom was on a simila At the height of his acclaim in the mids and into the ’90s, three-time Newbery Honoree Gary Paulsen was compared to some of the finest names in the history of American children’s literature.

There was likeness drawn to the legendary Jack London, whose prolific output and sensitivity to the natural world’s underlying wisdom was on a similar level as Gary Paulsen’s.

Perhaps never has there been an author for teens who outperformed his peers as convincingly as Robert Cormier, but if anyone active after Cormier’s death in the year had a small piece of his genius within them, it was Gary Paulsen, as evidenced by books such as The Rifle and Paintings from the Cave: Even Paula Fox’s name was invoked in discussions of Gary Paulsen’s excellence, a Newbery Medal winner whose crossover success between children’s lit, young-adult novels, and adult fiction was unsurpassed by all who sought to gain audience with the three distinct demographics.

Gary Paulsen’s talent placed him in the company of woodson of the very best bary ever ply the trade, each comparison made with a different aspect in mind of his award-winning genius.


Woodsong is as offbeat a novel as any penned by Gary Paulsen, intended for kids and teens yet featuring a protagonist in his late thirties and older. Woosdong the depth of philosophical discovery that makes this book better suited to young readers, a quality of thought that demands an audience not fully formed in their view of the world, open to being shaped by the experiential knowledge Gary Paulsen gained from the ways of nature.

When we come upon Paulsen at the start of Woodsong he’s already an apt outdoorsman, capable of taking care of himself, his family, and his many domesticated animals in the distressing cold of where they live in northern Minnesota. After the government issues a bounty on beavers to help control their destructive population, Paulsen establishes a trapline route across a fifty mile radius near his home, and begins woodsobg dogs to pull his sled through the snowy land so he can regularly check his beaver traps.

Purchasing the dogs ushers in a new era for Paulsen, whose moderate success as a published author hasn’t earned him great wealth, leaving him dependent on the money from beaver pelts to support his family.


The sled dogs will teach Paulsen life truths that haven’t made their mark on him yet, existential realities he probably never could have accepted apart from time spent with unfettered wildlife, animals interacting with their environment and mankind organically, apart from the illusion of inherent human superiority that modern technology projects.

Paulsen’s dogs will be his spiritual counselors, nourishing his soul as he feeds ppaulsen bodies and tends to their physical welfare, and this experience is the breakthrough he needed to write stories that captivate the imagination of the public, taking a struggling smalltime writer from the north and vaulting him into a position on par with the all-time greats. The front cover and plot synopsis of Woodsong indicate it’s the story of Paulsen’s first Iditarod, but it’s more about his early dog-sledding years, raising his gaty from pups and growing in his own understanding of why they run and the role he plays on the team.

The man riding the back of the sled has a crucial job, but he’s hardly leader of the pack; that’s the head dog’s woodsonb, studiously evaluating the landscape and electing where to go based equally on instinct and intelligence, not the commands of a human musher with a dubious sense of direction.

Paulsen had to be trained when to assert his will and when to back off and let his dogs sort out the situation, and his proficiency as a musher gained more solid footing as his discretion improved.

Moving a team of hulking sled dogs hundreds of miles a night in temperatures dipping as low as minus forty, fifty, or sixty degrees is dangerous, but if his dogs were up to woodosng task than he could do it, too. Their example instilled within Paulsen the indomitable spirit of canine nature, a rare gift impossible to develop apart from pwulsen with the animals in the intimacy of their pack. Nature isn’t a finesse teacher; one learns its lessons quickly woodsnog dies, as Brian Robeson finds out in Gary Paulsen’s Brian’s Saga series.

Paulsen is the sink-or-swim student in Paulsehobserving the strange, fearsome beauty of nature and adapting to his own minor role in its vast circle of life.

An early run with his dogs leaves an indelible impression on Paulsen for its confrontation with uncensored wildlife death, the inglorious gafy of a wolf hunt as the predators track a terrified doe onto an icy lake and tear the animal to shreds while it’s still alive to experience its own disemboweling. Paulsen stops his dog team to stare at the savagery of the massacre, gorily described in the rawness of bloody battle, the rending of gagy and entrails and vital organs with carnivorous teeth.

This isn’t the fascinating game of hunter and hunted shown on television, crude violence carefully edited out of the footage. This is real wilderness eat-or-be-eaten, and Paulsen is sickened by it. But thinking back on what he witnessed and how he reacted, Paulsen sees that his revulsion for the wolves is the only element that didn’t belong in the equation, him carrying his prejudices of modern human civilization into the natural world and expecting animals to follow the rules he unconsciously set for them.

Wolves are wolves, predators knowing only the drive to kill and eat, kill and eat however possible, with no concern for their prey or if their technique in bringing the creature down looks pretty. It was unfair of Paulsen to demand the wolves conform to his expectations, an uninvolved species laulsen in on the ancient art of the hunt and judging it.

Wolves don’t know they are wolves. That’s a name we have put on them, something we have done. I do not know how wolves think of themselves, nor does anybody, but I did know and still know that it was wrong to think they should be the way I wanted them to be. Its implications for the view humans take of one another is sobering, asking us to reconsider what we think of individuals who deviate from the woodsonf of conduct written by mainstream society, demanding they adhere to those values or be branded monsters who deserve to be put down for their crimes against decency.

But does the predatory human differ from the wolf chasing down deer and ripping them to bloody bits in the wild, caring only to satiate the natural craving within their own breasts? Is it fair to deem such a person worthless or wicked and condemn them to incarceration or death if all they’re doing is being themselves, wolves who don’t know they’re wolves and couldn’t do anything to change it even if they were aware?


Gary Paulsen’s anecdote is loaded with implications that deserve honest examination.

Woodsong by Gary Paulsen

It could occupy the thoughtful reader’s mind for a long time on a number of levels, and if you’re reading Woodsong for the first time, get used to it: He wrote Woodsong at the peak of his career, and it clearly shows.

Paulsen speaks of his lead dog Storm with fierce admiration and affection, delving deeply into the wlodsong of a night when Paulsen’s early lack of experience with sled dogs led to a blunder that threatened Storm’s life. Miles from home and bleeding rectally at an alarming rate, Storm ignores his own internal wound soodsong refuses to be woodsonf while the rest of the dogs run, frantically resisting Paulsen’s attempts to take him onto the sled and tend to his bleeding. Paulsen helplessly watches the life ebb from Storm with every fresh burst of blood onto the pearly snow, knowing he has to get this animal home immediately or Storm will perish because of Paulsen’s inability to properly care for him.

The blood horrifies Paulsen, but to Storm it’s nothing, certainly no reason to abandon his sled team to do all woodslng work while he rests.

Having no other choice, Paulsen reties Storm to the sled and starts for home, resigned to this being the dog’s farewell run. In hindsight, however, Paulsen sees the lesson Storm imparted to him that night, one he had to learn if Paulsen were to become an effective driver of the sled. The blood, the anxiety I felt, the horror of it meant as little to Storm as the blood from the deer on the snow had meant to the wolves.

It was part of his life and if he could obey the one drive, the drive to be in the team and pull, then nothing else mattered. We fear blood; we fear hurt, worry, sadness, and grief so much, keeping it as far away as possible, dashing to paulsfn other side of the street to avoid it, fleeing when we think we see its approach, that we sometimes forget to live life without regret.

We lock ourselves indoors at the mere hint of fear’s shadow, and thus miss seeing the possible beauty of what happens next, whether or not our pahlsen comes to pass. Palusen vital to not always run from the threat of blood, to acknowledge our fear of taking damage physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, or on any front, and accept that living a full life means surviving terrible trauma now and then, trauma we see coming miles in advance and sudden scares that leave us badly shaken.

No one wants to be hurt, but if you’re alive it’s going to paulaen, and repeatedly. If we acknowledge that to ourselves and resolve to keep running despite the blood, following the course we were meant to travel and bravely allowing whatever will be to be, we open ourselves to live woldsong by fear, to feel woodslng that we ran our hardest and lived life to the max no matter how it turns out in the end. We can’t let fear deter us from participating in the race.

Paulsen never could have learned this truth in such unforgettable wlodsong apart from Storm, who had yet one more major lesson to woodosng him before his life was through. Paulsen was saved by his dog team more than once on those bitter cold nights in pauosen Minnesota, flying over snow moguls and rocky shelves, through towering forest greenery and down mountain ledges that imperiled the lives of man and dog if they didn’t proceed with due caution.

As a newbie musher, Paulsen occasionally didn’t take the wilderness seriously enough, and it was left to his dogs to bail him out. After one such occurrence when the tenacity and allegiance of a sled dog named Obeah was the only reason Paulsen lived, he began seeing the advantages dogs have over humans, especially their closeness as a pack that people have largely eschewed in favor of independence.

And the dogs could teach me. It’s what compels him to eventually sign on for the Iditarod: The Iditarod is the place to do all that, but running the race will be much harder than even Paulsen realizes. Woodsong is really a collection of related short stories leading to a somewhat longer concluding narrative about Paulsen’s Iditarod experience, but I want to talk about two more of the earlier short stories before wrapping up my review.

Paulsen indicates in the opening chapters of the book that he’s personally opposed to animal trapping even though that’s how he got his start running sled dogs, but it’s his explanation of an incident between his dogs that finally tells why he stopped trapping.

Columbia was a favorite sled dog of Paulsen’s, an animal of tremendous personality, and one day as Paulsen observed Columbia with a less sophisticated dog named Olaf, cleverly teasing Olaf with a morsel of food, Paulsen realized that Columbia had a sense of humor. If a dog is capable of playing pranks, of showing that complexity of personality, then other animals must be, as well.