The Rifle

Gary Paulsen, Author, Honeywood, Author
Gary Paulsen, Author, Honeywood, Author Harcourt Children's Books $17 (112p) ISBN 978-0-15-292880-3
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-11800-2
Prebound-Glued - 108 pages - 978-1-4177-6116-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 112 pages - 978-0-440-21920-0
Prebound-Other - 105 pages - 978-0-613-01459-5
Prebound-Sewn - 108 pages - 978-0-7569-6686-7
Paperback - 108 pages - 978-0-15-205839-5
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A gifted storyteller, Paulsen could have plucked this plot straight from any newspaper-an accidental shooting with a loaded gun. This tragedy doesn't occur until the final pages, however; with consummate skill, Paulsen slowly sets the stage by focusing on the weapon itself, a rifle made in 1768 and subsequently used in the Revolutionary War. He documents the painstaking, labor-intensive process of crafting a rifle by hand. And not just any rifle, but one that is ""sweet""-a weapon of both beauty and deadly accuracy. He tracks its history, from the attic in which it languishes for centuries to the hands of an ultra-conservative gun freak (whose small-mindedness Paulsen exposes in withering detail), to the home of a mechanic who accepts it in trade for an auto repair. Only then do readers meet the boy Richard and sense impending doom. The remaining pages unfold with nervewracking leisure as readers squirm, awaiting the inevitable explosion. Although he sometimes uses his novel as a bully pulpit to fight the argument that ""guns don't kill people, people kill people,"" his magnificent prose is as ""sweet"" as the rifle about which he writes. A truly mesmerizing tale, from beginning to end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
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