Gone to the Woods – Gary Paulsen


 Gone to the Woods – Gary Paulsen, Farrar Strauss Giroux, (9780374314156), 2021 

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Biography

What did you like about the book? How do some people have this incredible recall of things that happened to them when they were very young?  Perhaps in Paulsen’s case it is because his experiences were so horrific much of the time and when not horrific, they were extraordinary.  Sent alone to travel from Chicago to a “North Woods” homestead (Minnesota?) at the age of 5, even having to change trains and dumped out in the middle of nowhere with not a soul in sight – He lives a happy, though extremely vigorous (can a 5-year-old Really do what he said he was made to do??) life there until his mother comes to claim him.  She is taking him by ship to join his soldier dad (that he can scarcely remember – and who has no interest in him whatsoever) in the Philippines.  Right before they are due to board ship, Gary (the boy) gets the chicken pox so no ship for them.  Unless his mother talks the captain into smuggling him aboard where he lives completely alone in a windowless cell for ten days while in quarantine –

And so it goes.

Anything you did not like about the book? No, very amazing.

To whom would you recommend this book? I read Paulsen’s 1995 memoir Eastern Sun, Winter Moon years ago and even own a copy.  A few of the incidents in his new book were also in the older one so folks who read this new one may well enjoy continuing with Eastern Sun, Winter Moon.  He has a number of other autobiographical stories, so no reason to not do a Paulsen marathon!

Who should buy this book? Public and high school libraries, maybe upper middle school as well

Where would you shelve it? YA biography.  I note that some reviews have promoted this for a younger crowd, even lower elementary; I’d say at least age 12 and up.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? For me, it was; “forsaking all others…”

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: 2/2/2021

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