ISBN: 0440210232
ISBN 13: 9780440210238
By: Gary Paulsen

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About this book

Two boys, separated by the canyons of time and two vastly different cultures, face the challenges by which they become men. Coyote Runs, an Apache boy, takes part in his first raid -- the one that will usher him into manhood. He is to be a man for but a short time....More than a hundred years later, while camping near Dog Canyon, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole becomes obsessed with a skull that he finds, pierced by a bullet. He learns that it was the skull of an Apache boy executed by soldiers in 1864. A mystical link joins Brennan and Coyote Runs, and Brennan knows that neither boy will find any peace until Coyote Runs' skull is returned to an ancient sacred place. In a grueling run through the canyon to return the skull, Brennan faces the challenge of his life.

Reader's Thoughts


I decided to give this book 5 stars because it is a Gary Paulsen story that I really liked. Paulsen's humor which I found lacking in the Brian trilogy is evivdent here. I found Brennan more likeable than Brian who is too stoic for my tastes. Brennan has a keener sense of humor and is more connected to people. Brian is way too much of an island. After the bias I found in The Woodsrunner I was pleased to that the protrayal of Coyote Runs came across as an honest one.Some quotes:"...the instant when he thought of all the excuses. I'm busy, I have to work, Stoney has a lot of new lawns-the cards flipped through his mind and he opened his mouth to use one of them but there was such a hopeful look in his mother's eyes, such a childlike hopeful look that the words that came out had nothing to do with what he was thinking: "Oh? That will be nice."Thoughts of boys on a camping trip:"Short of tying then down - and he wished he'd brought rope - he couldn't control them at all. They were in his pack, in his bags where he'd spread it by the fire pit, throwing his gear around."Coyote Run on the raid:"He passed the others, drving the extra mounts north, passed two more and then three, all riding hard after Sancta but none of them shot at him and he thought he must have been given special power, special medicine to go through them like smoke so they could not see him, though he rode right next to him and had horses in front of him."


"A deft and thought-provoking adventure novel." - Book list. "Canyons" is another great book by Gary Paulsen but it wasn't my favorite because it takes a while to get to the good part. I recommend Canyons to anybody in middle school and up. In Canyons there are two stories going on, one is about a apache boy who is going on raids to prove he is a man but he doesn't get to prove he is one for a long time... The main story is in modern time and is about a boy named Brannan. Brannan is a teenager who goes on a camping trip with his moms boyfriend and several little kids. When Brannan is taking a hike up in the canyons where he finds a skull with a strange whole in its forehead. He takes it back to the campground but for some reason he doesn't tell anyone about it. A couple days later when they are back to his home and Brannan still has the skull. That night he has a very strange dream about the skull. Brannan soon has several more dreams and somehow becomes obsessed with the skull. Why and how is Brannan obsessed with this skull. Will he ever let go of this skull and forget about it? Find out and read "Canyons" by Gary Paulsen.


Coyote Runs is trying to become a man as he grows up in a tribe that requires many rituals and marks of manliness to become accepted. In the same place at another point in time we watch Brennen Cole as he runs through the canyons and is struggling on his journey to become a man. The paralleled journeys add a great element to the story but by the time that I got halfway through the novel I enjoyed Coyote Runs' story much more than Brennan so I separated myself from the novel. Brennan finds a skull with a bullet hole in it that he obsesses over and it becomes a sort of mystery to him that he must solve. He eventually finds out that it is the skull of an apache boy who was murder by soldiers in the mid 1800's. I would recommend this novel to people who have a love for Paulsen.Honestly this wasn't my favorite of Gary Paulsen's books

petes likes bacon

Canyons is a realistic fiction book by Gary Paulsen that takes place in the canyons of New Mexico and just outside them. This book is about two boys, an Apache boy named Coyote Runs who is going on his first raid to become a man, and Brennan who lives in modern times and finds Coyote Runs skull. They have a connection through "canyons of time" and Brennan knows he has to return he skull to the "medicine place" of Coyote Runs. I liked this book because it was a fast paced action story and had lots of description and sensory detail. When reading Canyons I could see the setting. I would recommend this book for readers who like action books and have read other Gary Paulsen books. I give this book four stars.


This book was a bit disappointing, but the story was somewhat interesting. I thought the culmination of events at the end could have been written better. I was expecting more because of my enthusiasm for another Paulsen book, "Hatchet." I read it because many of last year's students read the Paulsen books in my classroom library.


** spoiler alert ** I enjoy Gary Paulsen's writing. He does inner dialogue really smoothly. This wasn't my favorite book of his, partially because he *Spoiler Alert!* killed off one of the point of view characters during the first part of the book. I was hoping for a time travel book, or for the two boys to interact in some interesting way. Instead the main character just has the compelling need to move a skeleton so its owner can rest in peace. I would hope spirits don't really hang around for a hundred years trying to ge someone to do this for them.

William Young

I thought the book “Canyons”, by Gary Paulsen was a very good book. In the beginning of the book it tells about a young indian boy named Coyote Runs. He goes on a raid with other members of his tribe and they get attacked by soldiers. Coyote Runs goes up to a canyon and is killed by the soldiers. Brennon, a young modern day boy, goes camping at the canyon where Coyote Runs was shot. He finds a skull and learns that it is Coyote Runs and he goes on a journey to return the skull. Coyote Runs is a young indian boy who goes on his first raid to become a man. He is ambushed by soldiers and killed in a canyon. Brennon is a modern day young boy who likes to run. His family goes camping and he finds the skull and learns more about it with his biology teacher. The setting is in the desert of Arizona. Half of the book is in the past with many Indian tribes, the other half of the book is present day. It is important because Coyote Run flees the soldiers in a large canyon in the desert. It also shows how good at running Bennon was because he had to run for miles in the desert. I would recommend this book to everyone because it has a good story. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 star rating.


** spoiler alert ** Adventure story told from the points of view of Coyote Runs, a long-dead Apache teenager, and Brennan, the quiet teenager who unexpectedly finds the dead boy's skull. Paulsen’s usual action-adventure is here tempered a bit by his thoughtful protagonists, both of whom are struggling to find a way to gain respect and acceptance. Paulsen, though outside the Native culture, attempts to represent the Apache culture sympathetically and without skepticism, and Brennan is inexplicably drawn to find out more about the mysterious boy, and conducts secret research, with the help of Mr. Homesley, a trusted biology teacher. The historic Indian culture is presented through the prism of a 20th century boy, which connects it to modern times. (The book was published 20 years ago!) What is less believable is Brennan's belief that Coyote Runs' spirit somehow is present in himself, and that the Apache boy’s spirit drives him to carry the skull to a sacred place.

William Lui

THis books has a plot that is sort of interesting but it gets confusing because its like two stories being told at the same time and you forget what happens in one story when you read the the other story. This book is about a boys whos skull is buried along time ago when he was in the army. It describes how group of people lived back then in the days. Another side, a boy goes to camp with his mother and mother's boy friend. They are in the same mountains as the skull that is buried in. When he sleeps, it bothers him and after a while he is able to pull it out. When they leave he takes it home and tries to find out what it means but they don't. All the momeries that happened to the boy whoses' skull it belonged to comes to the boy who finds it. Later his mom finds it and calls the police. He tells them the whole story. I thought the story was cinfusing but it is okay.


I thought that this book had a good story. I never really wanted to put the book down. I thought what the author did with the last part of the book was pretty cool. What he did was he kind of distracted you with tons of details about the story, and then some action happens and throws you off track. The only reason I rated this book three stars was because their was some mild swearing with the main character. Also, the author put some real thought and effort in the first part of the book, put squished everything together in the last part of the book. Other than those two reasons, I really liked the book! I thought the story was suspenseful and full of emotions towards the characters and their decisions.

Hilary Lemon

Required Author - Gary PaulsenI love Gary Paulsen. In fourth grade, I read Hatchet and Brian's Winter and thought they were fantastic. And they were. Something about Canyons, though, didn't rub me the right way.In Canyons, Brennan Cole discovers a skull which, unbeknownst to him, belongs to Coyote Runs, a young Apache boy shot by American soldiers a century before. The book features a sort of supernatural connection between Brennan and the skull, which I found a little off-putting and atypical of Paulsen's usual style. Brennan, with the help of a biology teacher (and a close relationship that would be considered inappropriate today), discovers the secret of the skull and restores it to the proper mystical resting place.Paulsen's a well-informed outdoors writer. His character Brennan is likable and accessible to young readers, especially male readers. I would recommend this to middle school and young high school male readers, but it wouldn't be my first choice pick.

Christina Ayala

This book didn't pull me in until around page 75... and when it did, wowzers! Gary Paulsen did it again...this story still has the survival theme that runs through many of his stories which makes me a faithful reader. Canyons is historical fiction ( at least I'm sure most of it's fictional, though the Apaches vs soldiers is probably true) that interweaves two characters from different eras and different cultures. At first it is hard to tell where the story is going and why we are following these two diverse characters. In a swift moment it all becomes clear and the story takes off from there.


The Short and Sweet of ItCoyote Runs takes his place as a man among the Apache as he goes on his first raid. Over one hundred years later, Brennan Cole goes on a camping trip where he finds a skull which begins a journey connecting him to the past.A Bit of a RambleI first read this book way back in the early 90s, and I fell in love. I may not have remembered the story, but I still remember the feeling I had after reading, that hard to explain sinking feeling. Not "sinking" like bad, but sinking like good. A depression that the story is over, a bittersweet acceptance of the ending and an appreciation of the journey the story took you on. Few books truly give me this feeling, few books truly touch the soul. Canyons did that for me when I was a young girl, and I devoured many of Paulsen's other works because of this. And I must say that many did truly speak to me.Obviously, I am a much different person at 31 than I was at 11, and that difference is certainly felt upon re-reading a book which was so moving. While I enjoyed the story, I didn't love it the way I did back then. I do still appreciate the same things about the story though: the feeling of a connection to the past, a connection to a place, the strength of a young boy's resolve, the beauty of an adult's acceptance. This is a simple story which feels epic. All of these things - which are way more clear if you've read the book - are reason enough to read the book, and I highly urge you to pick up a Paulsen if you get the chance.Like The Giver, I read Canyons while feeding Madison Paige during the night. I think I'm going to pick up another Paulsen tonight for my next book...probably Hatchet as that one also touched my soul back in my pre-teen years.


Canyons by Gary PaulsenRating: **Bookshelves: ENGL 420 Status: Read in November Review: GARY PAULSEN CATEGORYThis book was a quick read, alternating between two boys close in geographical location but divided by over one hundred years. Brennan discovers a love for history when he brings home a skull of Coyote Runs, a young Indian boy executed by Union soldiers. Coyote Runs connects spiritually with Brennan, guiding him to a secret place so Coyote can finally be laid to rest. This supernatural element came as a surprise but fit with the mystical Native American element. Paulsen’s focus on young boys and adventures makes him a favorite with young men; Brennan loves running and connects best with male characters, probably because he was raised without a father. The book was short and would match the tastes of someone looking for quick reads about mystery and adventure.


I read this book when I was ten or eleven years old, so I can't promise that my memory is entirely accurate regarding its content. The story has stuck with me quite well, though, a testament to Paulsen's vivid descriptions and imagery. To this day, I can still picture Brennan's run through the canyon; it is definitely one of the most striking literary passages from my childhood. Throw in a little bit of Native American mysticism and I'd say this is a fairly well-constructed, adventuresome little novel.

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