ISBN: 0689852509
ISBN 13: 9780689852503
By: Gary Paulsen Ruth Wright Paulsen

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Adventure Currently Reading Fiction Memoir Non Fiction Nonfiction Survival To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Gary Paulsen, Newbery Honor author of "Hatchet" and "Dogsong," is no stranger to adventure. He has flown off the back of a dogsled and down a frozen waterfall to near disaster, and waited for a giant bear to seal his fate with one slap of a claw. He has led a team of sled dogs toward the Alaskan Mountain Range in an Iditarod -- a 1,180-mile dogsled race -- hallucinating from lack of sleep, but determined to finish.Here, in vivid detail, Paulsen recounts several of the remarkable experiences that shaped his life and inspired his writing.

Reader's Thoughts

Carey Henderson

I love, love, LOVE this book! I wish I had waited a couple weeks before I wrote the blog on my top 10 favorite books because this memoir would've been on it! No idea how or when this quick read ended up in my bookcase, but I'm disappointed that I took so long to pick it up to read! Not a big book, less than 150 pages, I knocked it out in a couple hours on a snowed-in afternoon. WoodSong is one page-turning adventure! It's the true life, hard-to-believe-it's-actually-nonfiction memoirs of author Gary Paulsen (Hatchetf, Dogsong, The Winter Room, etc) & his life running a sled-dog team, training for the Iditarod. The first half of the book tells how the author first got interested in dog sledding; the trials, hit & misses, ignorance, mistakes that he made as his passion grew. This is one of the best novels I've ever read on wildlife conservation & the relationships between pets & their owners. The author wrote with such honesty & rawness over his own misunderstanding at nature & her unforgiving spirit. He also is openly candid at admitting his many failures, mistakes & ignorance at owning a team of intelligent, high-strung working dogs. The regret with which he wrote about at "ruining" some of these dogs over his lack of knowledge is something that, those of us who work & have worked in the animal industry, have seen first hand way to many times. I was not bored or lost interest on any page of this novel. I laughed outloud in several parts describing his mistakes & how the dogs corrected him, I bawled over the words he wrote on the death of his favorite sled dog, Storm & I found myself saying,"sooooo true" in agreement with him over the ways in which man destroys wildlife & nature. The second half of the novel was about his weeks running the Iditarod dog sled race held annually in Alaska. A grueling 1150mile course through unforgiving mountains, backcountry wilderness & heavy waterways. Mushers & dogs work as a team to finish in less than two weeks time. It was fascinating to read behind the scenes on what really happens, the non-televised versions; deaths, hallucinations, sleep & hunger depravity, injuries, & basic survival instincts kicking in for both man & animal. I read with captivity. Truly is a testimony on what the body goes through when pushed to the brink of competition, with others & yourself. If you're a nature-freak, survivalist, animal lover, dog obsessed, conservationist or adventure seeker you'll love this book! It's a super fast, easy read full of honest & raw, non-exaggerated writing. The author is a natural teacher who simplifies his passion for readers & conveys his love for wildlife & environmental conservation, as well as, animal rights. If I could rate this higher than 5 stars On Goodreads I would!

Chris F

In Woodsong, the main character named Gary connects with his dogs and trains them for a race called the Iditarod. He is always in the woods riding with his dogs training them for the big race. Gary is always telling wise stories and talking about the mistakes he has made in the past. The book is very action packed and always keeps you on your toes wanting to read on. Gary has many struggles in the book but always ends up overcoming them with the help of his dogs who are always present in the book. While on Gary’s runs with the dogs he always sees things that change him as a person. He sees life, and death, and it hugely affects him. Gary is special in the book because the whole time he says he does not care about winning, just finishing and staying true, which gives the book a special meaning. A special theme in the book is actions/mistakes can depend on your life and well-being. Gary learns this a number of times on his runs and adventures. “I have made many mistakes in my life, and will probably make many more, but I hope never to throw a stick at a bear again” (40). In this part of the book, Gary is frustrated and throws a stick at a bear in his yard. The bear charges him and jumps on top of Gary. The Bear could have easily killed him. Gary also gets hurt a lot because of simple mistakes. “I have been injured several times running dogs, (cracked ribs, broken left leg, broken left wrist, various parts that have been frozen trying to stop fights, but nothing ever felt like landing on that knee”(27). . Gary makes the mistake of falling off his sled and breaking his knee which almost cost him his life. This theme stays with Gary the whole book and plays a role in the book. If I were the author, I would have included more details to give the reader more of an image of what is happening. Often times it was unclear of where Gary was and was hard to tell what was happening. “Out of anchorage just madness” (89). Gary does not explain the madness that well; he just says there is “madness”. “With the darkness comes chaos” (91). Gary does not explain the chaos and it makes you wonder what it is. In conclusion this book gets a 5/5 because of the amazing stories that happen to Gary. You always want to keep reading and find out what will happen because you are always so engaged in the book.


The memoir "Woodsong" by Gary Paulsen is mainly about his experiences while working with animals in nature such as dogs, cats, chicken, sheep and so forth. Throughout his encounters with nature, he realizes human beings are animals too, and are no different than any other creature. His relationships with his dog teams especially changed his life, and taught him spectacular things about friendship, unity, trust, respect and honor. At the end of the book, Gary Paulsen journals his first person accounts during the dog sledding race of Iditarod. It is a great experience for him and his dog team, and when crossing the finish line he wished he turned back to admire the beauty of Alaska once again where he learned so much.I recommend reading this book because it is very interesting to learn about Paulsen's daily life and experiences in the wilderness. It is also a very unique book, due to the fact that it has no plot like a normal novel would. It also consists several characters that hold their own encounters with Paulsen within them, but only has one main character which is Paulsen himself. It also reminds us humans that animals have emotions too, and that we shouldn't take over their homes or lives just to make ours better or easier all the time. To conclude, this memoir written by Gary Paulsen shares experiences with nature that have meaning, which is why I recommend it.

Sarah Dussault

I stumbled across this book and could not be more happy. Recently I have become a huge fan of the Yukon Quest. Mr. Paulsen's explanation of the unwavering relationship between a musher and his team is remarkable. If you follow races like The Quest or 'The Race' you hear bits and pieces of encounters with moose or the visions delirium brings. Woodsong, brings it together in a journey of personal awakening.


GARY PAULSEN CATEGORY, NON-FICTION CATEGORYUnlike many other of Gary Paulsen’s novels, Woodsong is not a fictional story; it contains instead several thematically related experiences from Paulsen’s own life. He tells of his experiences learning about dogs, how to travel by dogsled and grow close to these animals, how to live in the woods, and finally he concludes with the story of his first time racing the Iditarod. The subject matter of this novel was, frankly, unappealing to me, and as a result this wasn’t one of my favorite books I’ve read for this class. At times I felt like Paulsen was using cheap writing tricks to sound dramatic. On the whole, this was not a book I enjoyed very much. However, I do think that if someone were especially interested in the types of stories he was telling about the outdoors they would probably enjoy this book very much.

Jackson Melton

In Woodsong, by Gary Paulson, the story of Gary Paulson’s life as a dogsled runner is told. The story focuses mainly on the dogs that he would run with, their personalities, stories about running them, and what they taught him about the wilderness. When the book begins he is a man living with a wife, and a son in a small house in northern Minnesota. They are very poor because his writing career hasn’t taken off yet and he has to take other jobs to be able to live. Then when the state is having problems with a beaver infestation, Gary, decides to start running a dogsled to trap and kill beavers for the reward of the pelt. Through his dogsled running he sees the potential of his dogs, and the speed of them, so he decides to run the Iditarod race in Alaska. The theme of this book is that you can learn for animals and the wilderness. Through the whole book, Gary, is talking about how much the animals, mainly his dogs, taught him about the world. “It is always possible to learn from the dogs and in fact the longer I’m with them the more I understand how little I know” (70). The quote above describes how he felt about the dogs. Gary believes that the dogs are actually smarter than he is, and therefore, should trust that they know what they are doing. This theme comes up at all points in the book and the story, even during the race. “He [Storm] could look once at my shoulders and tell how I was feeling, tell how far we were to run, how fast we had to run, knew it all”(75). In this quote from Woodsong, Gary, talks about his dog, Storm. Gary talks about how Storm could tell everything that he needed to know, and more. Gary stated that Storm “knew it all”, showing his praise for the intelligence of his dogs, and to some extent admiration towards Storm. Gary believes that you can learn from animals and the wilderness, and that’s why he stresses it as his theme. Gary Paulson writes Woodsong in a unique way, the beginning of the book is all short stories, and the end is broken up into days. Gary also writes the book as a loose auto-biography about his time as a dogsled runner and racer. “The only way to do it is to break it down to simple, small units of time. The first run took seventeen days, fourteen hours and it can be best remembered in days” (85). Gary tells that the reason why he breaks the running of the Iditarod down into days is because it is how he remembers it. The author, also, likely used breaking the story down into days to shorten up the story, so the reader stays interested. “I killed yet thought that every story has a happy ending. Until a December morning…” (2). The previous quote depicts how the aspect of it being an auto-biography comes into place. Since the story is an auto-biography, it allowed the author to easily turn the book into a series of short stories. The short stories also made it so that the book didn’t drag on and turn you into boredom. The author used these unique ways of writing to help the reader stay interested. Overall, I thought that this story was good. The way of writing was extremely important because without it the book easily would have dragged on. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the wilderness and the animals in, and around it. I give this book a 4/5.


Snapshot: Thirsty for adventure but with no idea how to quench it? Woodsong will only intensify your itch for exploration. Known for his award-winning adventure-filled novels, Gary Paulsen's memoir detailing his dog-sledding history may be more exciting than his fiction. The book is divided in half, the first section filled with stories of experiencing the wild through various animal encounters. The second half is a day-by-day account of his first attempt at the famous Iditarod dog-sled race across Alaska. It's man vs. nature in this action-packed book sure to get your adventure juices flowing!Hook: The front cover captures the essence of the book, with a portrait of a bearded man above shadows of a figure on a sled being pulled by dogs. A snowy mountain and a sun are also visible, yet the mountain, or glacier, may not be identified by readers who have limited knowledge of this landscape. The first page encapsulates the theme by touching on humans' propensity for destroying the very nature they claim to love, and the author's initial misunderstanding of this concept. Paulsen's name on the cover may also attract students who enjoyed his other novels, including Hatchet and Dogsong. Challenges: The first section of the book, “Running,”is not written in chronological order, but rather as a collection of stories. Some are connected, while others are not. This may confuse readers, or dissuade them from continuing should they not be able to see the purpose for these seemingly random tales. Readers may also struggle relating to the author, as I'm willing to bet none of my students have seen a dogsled. This may prevent them from seeing the true theme of conquering fears and accomplishing goals.Students In Mind: I believe every student can take something from this book, as it taps into their thirst for exploration and adventure. Boys, especially, should enjoy this story, as well as outdoor enthusiasts and dog lovers.Conference Notes: This is a relatively safe book as far as sensitive material. There are a couple sections dealing with the death of dogs, which may upset someone who has recently lost a loved one, especially a pet. Level: Middle school, low-level high school


If you liked Hatchet...(or maybe just THINK you liked it, because you haven't read it since junior high, and you remember that a hatchet featured prominently, and being stranded in the wilderness, but not much beyond that) then you'll love Gary Paulsen's TRUE LIFE adventures in the woods of Minnesota and Alaska! That's how I felt this book was being marketed, but as it turns out, I really did like the grown-up, non-fiction version of Paulsen's writing better. He occasionally waxed poetic (with odd, clipped sentences, and repeated words), but it wasn't often enough to cause great annoyance, and the anecdotes he shared of living life on the edge of the frozen North more than made up for the style quirks. This was a short book, and a quick read (just one day for me) and despite not loving snow, cold, dogs, or wild animals that much, I found this book fascinating. The last third is an account of Paulsen's running of the Iditarod and as I read, I imagined what it would be like to meet Paulsen at a cocktail party or something and be able to corner him and pepper him with questions about "What was that LIKE?!" and maybe monopolizing him for an hour or so as he recounted various harrowing experiences for you. It was like THAT, only from the comfort of my own couch, and without being an obnoxious stranger. So, everything good about reading memoirs.Anyway, I recommend this for a quick read and a fascinating look at a way of life that feels so antiquated and foreign it's hard to believe there are really people who live that way.

Matt Peitso

Woodsong by Gary Paulson, type of book is biography, the subject about this book is how he lives, how he lives out in the wilderness out in the snow. only him and his dog team. What i think Gary was trying to make you do is feel the emotions and make you feel that you were there in snow telling the dog to mush. To make you feel that your on the sled controling the dogs listening to every action they make and every breath they take. This book fits into a biography because 1 this story is true. 2 its based on his life and what he has done in this tale. The book affect me on the human boby and mind how anyone has the strength to push them selfs to the edge and to keep going. My mind was affect because the way he looks at all of his situations the way he thinks and the knowledge that he has gained over his life was surprising to me how he handle everything that came his way. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn more knowledge about sled dogs and how to survive in 60 below weather. Woodsong gives the reader a full experince on how his life in the artic weather is played out this could problely could be turn into movie if someone wanted to.


In the book Woodsong, the author Gary Paulson is writing about his adventure during the Iditarod with his sled dogs. The story focuses mainly on the hardships he faces during the race. The other main point was what he learned from his dogs. He learned that he shouldn’t trap or hunt living animals anymore because they deserve to live and since his dogs never hurt humans, so why would he want to kill the animals? He wanted to get to know the wilderness better so he decides to run the Iditarod. There is a very unique way the author writes the book. He uses flashbacks to explain an event happening during the dog sled race. “In the summer the dogs live in the kennel area”(22). This quote is an example because it’s a flashback to the summer before the race where Gary Paulson saw his dog Columbia mess with Olaf with a bone. “We were running along the top edge of a long ridge, we rose higher and higher” (67). This quote is an example of Gary Paulson writing about his Iditarod experience. His type of writing helps us understand a topic some people wouldn’t get because of it not being a very popular sporting event. There weren’t very many parts I could understand but when I could make a connection like these I was able to understand that part of the book. “The wolves. There was a pack of brush wolves and they began chasing her” (34). I made this connection to the movie The Gray, where there is a party of oil-men whose plane crashes and they have to find a way to escape a pack of hungry wolves. This was a very good example of nature because just like in the book, the wolves have to eat so they go after anything living. “But some dogs, and Strom was one of them, pull hard all the time, even when they are tired” (15). I made this connection to my dad’s husky when he lived in Alaska. His dog was a very hard working and loyal dog, the dog never stopped working. These connections help me understand and enjoy the book more than I would have if I didn’t make these connections. In conclusion, if you read this book, it’s always good to have background knowledge on the Iditarod. This book is a great read for adventure seekers looking for a novel. I would give this book a 2.5 out of 5 because of its topic and unique way of writing.


It's a good book but some of it is very descriptive for littler kids.


Woodsong is an adventure story by Gary Paulsen and is in close proximity to his award winner as hatchet. In this book, the scene is set along the lines of Gary Paulson flying off the back of a dogsled and down a frozen waterfall coming close to killing himself. I would recommend it to 13 years old kids and above.One part that really struck me is that important decisions had to be made. Decisions such as letting a giant bear live or die for not killing him. This really struck me because those decisions are the ones that are crux for his survival. Another part that really struck me is that he also has led a team of sled dogs towards the 1180 mile dogsled race across the Alaskan Mountain range. During this he suffers from hallucinations from lack of sleep but is determined to finish in one piece. He looses dogs which took him on his adventure and has a strong bond to which adds on to the emotion of the story. He mentions that running the dogs is his life and would not know, how he would live without them.The final reason why this book struck me is that this book is not a made up story however it does consist of things that Gary Paulson has had experience in and combined it to make a great story. I felt as though these experiences made the story more satisfying to read.I think in this book his describing of what is happening really makes me feel like I experienced what Gary Paulson felt when writing such as his feelings an example would be when the bear came along. Soon the dogs teach Gary things and this really makes the saying a dog is a man’s best friend come true. I think this book is fun and an unusual read, but prepare to feel some emotion to the dogs when they die. I have one complaint with this book though I think it was too short. I gave this book a four out of five stars because I think hatchet was a better story but this book included more detail and made the characters really pop out and be realistic and down to earth. I recommend this book to people above 13 years as it is an excellent read in my opinion.


The Woodsong is a fantastic book its full of suspense action and show the true beauty of nature. it starts with Gary running is dog sled up a trap line when he stops and finds wolfs chasing and eating a dear that is still alive. then it goes on explain about dog sleds and how it can change your views on dogs then it goes to some stories that h append in the past on dog sledding and how improved and some adventures he and his sled team have been on like trying to threw a freak storm or trying to back away from a bear or trying to save a dear from a snare. then the book goes on about how his dream is to run the iditorod and how it is something he must do. then the book moves on to him and his team training for the race and then finely it moves to him getting tips from everybody whose run the race then when the race begins he explains the race in very vivid details as he progress through the race it explains how the race changes him. this is one of my all time favorite books from him


Woodsong by Gary Paulsen is one of my all-time favorite books for kids and students. I read it many times with my 6th and 7th grade students and created a unit around the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska. The book is a non-fiction biography of Gary Paulsen's true adventures while in the wilderness training dogs to run the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska. The book captures the reality of the adventure, and the trials and tribulations training for the race and the 1180-mile run with the dogs. As a dog-lover, I truly enjoyed this adventure. I mostly feel that this book is a launching book to introduce students to any number of activities, research, and further study of dog training, running the Iditarod, and the Alaskan wilderness.Wood Song is also a three-time John Newbery Award Winner.An activity that I would do with students is the Scholastic.com online writing workshop. It takes students through the writing process to create a persuasive essay about how the dogs are treated in the training and race process of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. It involves a research component prior to writing the essay. There's also a 10-question quiz that tests comprehension and it gives instant feedback.

Carl Koch

I read "Woodsong" by Gary Paulsen. I thought the book was very good, because it was never boring. The author was always on an adventure, whether he was investigating a glowing stump or fighting off a huge bear. The books theme was that you never really realize how much you don't know until it hits you in the face. The author expresses this when he almost kills one of his dogs from his inexperience in dog-sledding, and when he watches a pack of brush wolves kill a deer. He also shows how amazing the outdoors are if people would just stop and pay attention to it.The main character was Gary Paulsen. Throughout the book he changed so much because of the things that nature and his dogs taught him. He is almost always with his dogs training or trapping, although he does have a wife. He likes to keep to himself and realizes what little he'd have if he didn't have his dogs."Woodsong" is broken up into two parts, each with a different setting. The first part of the book is set in Minnesota where the author traps and trains dogs for the Iditarod. The second part of the story the author races the dogs across most of Alaska. The book is not set in a specific time because the author is reminiscing the most fond memories in his life.I thoroughly enjoyed "Woodsong" because of its fluidity and entertainment value. The book was never boring and was relatively easy to read. The fact that the book is all true makes the read even better. I would give "Woodsong" four out of five stars, and recommend it to anyone who loves nature and wants to hear a true story about a mans courage.

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