Woodsong

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Woodsong
Paulsen - Woodsong.gif
Author Gary Paulsen
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date
1990
Media type Hardcover and Paperback
Pages 132

Woodsong is a book of memoirs by Gary Paulsen. It is divided into two halves. The first half consists of Paulsen's early experiences running sled dogs in Wisconsin and then in Alaska, and the later half describes the trials he faces in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Plot summary[edit]

Paulsen opens his book with a vivid retelling of a story in which he watched brush wolves kill and devour a live doe in the woods. This event revealed the raw, unfabricated realities of nature to him. He then recounts how he was once a beaver trapper in Minnesota, earning barely enough money from the job to support his wife and son, and that there was no method of transportation to aid him. His neighbors assisted him by giving him a few older sled dogs, which he gradually learns to properly run, and begins running the trapline with them. Paulsen recounts many incidents he has undergone with his dogs on their runs, including times he has been carried to safety by his sled dogs after breaking his knee on the trail, became violently ill in the midst of extreme cold conditions, and a variety of mysterious happenings in the Alaskan wilderness. In all of their adventures, he bonds closely with his dogs, particularly one named "Storm". Storm was an ideal dog that taught Paulsen many life values, including that of death. His experience running his sled dogs taught him much about nature and life.

Part One closes, and Part Two begins with Paulsen entering a team of fifteen of his dogs in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, an approximately 1,153 mile-long sled dog race from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska. The race proves to be long and arduous. Extreme cold conditions and difficult terrain put both he and his team to the test. He is repeatedly afflicted by lifelike hallucinations caused by extreme sleep deprivation, such as a man with a trench coat talking about educational grants, and hallucinating about a man hallucinating. But Gary is spurned onward by the beauty of the race and his devotion to the team. During the race, Gary experiences a unique feeling when he is running with his dogs. After nearly seventeen days, he at last crosses the finish line in Nome. He places last in the race, but the accomplishment and adventure is all that matters to him.