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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Woodsong Book Review

The book Woodsong is a memoir by the award-winning author and novelist, Gary Paulsen. It is a vivid recollection of his experiences with sled dogs done in two parts. The first part showcasing his adventures running sled dogs in Wisconsin and later Alaska, and the second part tells of his gruelling experience participating in the 1, 180-mile dog-sled race which is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The book opens with Paulsen's first ever witness of wolves killing and devouring a doe. This experience has opened his eye to the rawness of survival in the wilderness and the harsh reality that is nature. He talks about his experience of poverty having little resources and being unable to abundantly provide for his wife and son. He has undergone being a beaver trapper and his interest with sled dogs sparked when his neighbors gave him a few old sled dogs because he was hard of transportation. He studied and bonded his dogs and was later adept in running them. He recounts episodes where he learnt life lessons from his dogs, including being saved by them and their many exploits in the cold wilderness.

The second part dwells on his preparation and participation in the Iditarod race. Paulsen does a great job in detailing how he battled the wilderness and was pushed to his physical limits. Sleep was never a luxury for him during those times and it almost made him give up because it gave him hallucinations. Despite the horror and pain, he and his dogs pushed on with the race and finished. His heart leapt having seen his wife meet him at the finish line even when he had to drag one of his dogs to finish.

Woodsong is a worthy read for adolescent students because it illustrates the relevance of not giving up. Paulsen's drive to finish what he has started inspires one to pursue aspirations. It regards life hurdles as necessary to develop strength and that physical pain brought about by these hurdles is nothing that can be cured. With the power of belief in one's self coupled with perseverance, the inner person can never be pierced.

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