Cover image for Woodsong
Paulsen, Gary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [1990]

Physical Description:
132 pages : illustrations, map ; 24
For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is a wild experience involving wolves, deer, and the sled dogs that make their way of life possible. Includes an account of the author's first Iditarod, a dogsled race across Alaska.
General Note:
Illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen.
Reading Level:
1090 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 6-8 7.2 9 Quiz: 12824 Guided reading level: T.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F610 .P38 1990C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F610 .P38 1990C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



With thrilling immediacy, the award winning novelist Gary Paulsen pulls us into the breathtaking drama of his own story. His life-changing adventure begins with sparkling days and moonlit nights spent running with his dogs in the Minnesota wilderness.

Author Notes

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Paulsen writes about his fierce, beautiful experience with sleds and dogs, first in northern Minnesota where he lives and then in 17 grueling days with his 15-dog team in the Iditarod race. Despite occasional inflated messages about "life" and about "blood," the stories ring with truth. The language is stark as he describes big, near-mystical experiences in the snow and wind; he also shows a lightness of touch, a self-deprecating humor (even about his great vision quest); in fact, there are episodes of outright farce, both in his domestic barnyard and the Alaskan tundra. He's candid about the boredom and mundane detail (including "gastric distress" from gorging on moose chili) and about the wild hallucinations that come with sleep deprivation. The nature lore woven into the narrative is like a celebration of the "woods" (Paulsen's word for the environment): the grouse's eggs that lie cuddled in the nest; the bears hungry beyond caution; the goats whuffing and blowing snot; the high keening wail and whoop of the loon. And always there's the image of Paulsen sleeping in a tent at 35 below, warmed by the dogs jamming into the sides of his sleeping bag. The ending is subtle: not wanting to finish the race, barely able to speak to people anymore, he nearly turns the sled around to go back into the tundra; only his wife's shout breaks the spell. Like Jack London, Paulsen combines wild adventure and precise observation with intensely private discovery. We're moved by the story of the individual with his dogs and the elements--solitary, connected. Gr. 6-12. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Paulsen, who has received Newbery Honors for three of his novels, is the best author of man-against-nature adventures writing today. Woodsong is an autobiographical celebration of his longtime love of dogsledding and sled dogs, a love that suffused the pages of his best novel, Dogsong. Woodsong is divided into two parts. In the first part, ``Running,'' Paulsen relates anecdote after anecdote about how his dogs and the frozen, wintery adventures he has had while sledding have taught him to be more human. The anecdotes run the gamut from hilarious to tragic, and truly sing with the wonder, violence and grace of the woods. The second part, ``Racing,'' the pellmell story of Paulsen's first Iditarod--a sled race across the Alaskan wilderness from downtown Anchorage to downtown Nome--burns with feverish intensity as one grueling day follows another. Like Paulsen's novels, Woodsong blends deep introspection with fast-paced action and succeeds admirably on both levels. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

An autobiographical book that gives through spare but vivid language a look at a man who thought, because he was a hunter and a trapper, that he knew about the outdoors. Instead, he discovered he knew very little until he opened himself to the realities of predators and prey, and to the lessons taught to him by the animals he encountered and the sled dogs he trained and raced. This is not a life story, with dates and names and achievements, but rather Paulsen's reflections on the peculiarities and surprises of nature. Some of the lessons are violent and painful, brought on by the natural instincts of wild animals or Paulsen's own mistakes; others are touching or humorous, and convey a sharp sense of observation and awareness of the various personality traits of the dogs he has raised and run. And some are unexplainable--mysteries of nature that would seem incredible if written in a work of fiction. The anecdotal style and rhythmic, sometimes abrupt sentence structure demand close attention, and the switch in the last third of the book to Paulsen's day-by-day account of the Iditarod is sudden, though expected. The Iditarod story is intensely personal, focusing on Paulsen's thoughts, actions, and hallucinations during those 17 days rather than presenting a comprehensive view of the race and the competitors. Both segments of the book generate wonder at the abilities of animals and should introduce fans of Paulsen's fiction to a different type of writing. --Susan Schuller, Milwaukee Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.