Thirteen-year-old Samuel is at home in the woods the way we long to be. He knows the sounds and the smells and what they are telling him. Even silence talks to him in the woods. The connection is powerful and primal. But, today, as he is out hunting for food to feed his family, something in the woods changes and Samuel, sensing, danger, runs back to his home. What he finds is devastation and loss. His parents are gone-probably still alive judging by the tracks and the signs. Samuel sets out to bring his parents back. Along the way, he will witness violence, cruelty, senselessness, kindness, and loyalty. Gary Paulsen leads us directly into the life and times of the American Revolution as we follow Samuel as he relies on himself and his skills and then, trusts Abner, a fellow traveler, to use his network of civilian spies to try to locate Samuel's parents. To really acquaint us with the world we have entered, between chapters, Paulsen inserts passages of non-fiction information about the world of the American Revolutionary War. We learn about orphans, the treatment of prisoners of war, the civilian intelligence networks, the weapons and more. This information really enlarges our sense of the setting of the story and the world that our characters are up against. This is a great book for those young readers who want to know the facts, just the facts. They'll get a story with harsh realities and a real experience of handling a rifle, gutting a raccoon and the horrors of war.
Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)