Thursday, January 5, 2012
Winterdance by Gary Paulsen
Winterdance by Gary Paulsen (Harcourt, 1994)
Gary Paulsen is a prolific writer of novels for kids and young adults. Many of his most popular books are survival stories or stories about the bond between humans and animals. In Winterdance, Paulsen recounts his experiences of training for his first Iditerod.
This is actually the second time I've read Winterdance. The first was shortly after its publication. I'm glad I revisited it. I'm getting ready to do a genre study of memoir with my seventh graders upon our return from winter break, and I am planning to use this book with my students in book clubs. While there is some salty language in the book, I think Paulsen's learning through trial and error and his misadventures with his dogs will appeal to many of my students.
This is definitely a book for older readers. I wouldn't hand it to a fourth or fifth grader who has just finished Hatchet. There are some scenes of human-to-dog violence that could be upsetting to more sensitive readers, but I think older kids can read those scenes and see that Paulsen includes those scenes as part of his commentary on human nature.
Teens who love adventure books and nature stories will definitely find things to love in Winterdance.