What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a war story, and as such, there is violence and sadness. There's gritty war violence (the main character, a young teen, shoots and kills a couple people in self-defense and watches others get killed) but it's never described graphically. Parents also need to know that this book offers positive characters who are generous and courageous and lots of historical information about the Revolutionary War.
What's the story?
In the wild frontier of Bristish Pennsylvania, 13-year-old Samuel is a "woods runner," or someone who hunts food for his entire settlement. Growing up sheltered by his gentle parents, Samuel feels far from the American patriot war they have barely heard about -- until his village is attacked and burned, leaving neighbors murdered and his parents kidnapped by Iroquois and British Redcoats. Armed with only a knife and a rifle, Samuel uses his forest skills to track the kidnappers. When he learns that his parents, as prisoners of war, are being taken to New York, Samuel sets out into enemy territory.
Is it any good?
WOODS RUNNER is a worthy page-turner, just right for the reader who is ready for a gripping, informational book with some violence. The book offers meaningful characters, true adventure, helpful and interesting historical notes, as well as an epilogue and an afterword. The story doesn't go into the politics or particulars of the Revolutionary War, yet it sets a tone of learning under the action and in the author's historical notes that pepper the story. Kids will get through this book easily, though it will leave a mark on them. It would also make a good tie-in to a school study of American history.
Families can talk about...
Samuel's parents read aloud to each other every night. Why do you think they did that? Has your family ever spent time reading aloud together? If so, what have you read together? What would you like to read together now? What do people get out of shared reading?
Samuel's parents left a bigger town to live on the frontier (the colony of Pennsylvania). It was difficult for them to get news and they had no idea the war was as close as it was. How do you get news? Do you live in a big or small town, and does that make a difference in how you get your news?
Samuel says, "I didn't even know there was anyone to fight. Who was good or bad, which side to be on." Is it always clear in war who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? Who says who is good and who is bad? What role does the media play in our attiutudes toward war?
Many innocent lives are lost at war, including those of non-soldiers, the elderly, women, and children. How do nations try to protect innocents? Are there rules of war? Ask your parents about or research The Geneva Conventions of 1949.