cover image Cookcamp


Gary Paulsen, G. Paulsen. Scholastic, $15.95 (115pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05927-2

This short, lyrical novel concerns a five-year-old boy who is sent to the north woods of Minnesota to live with his grandmother, a cook for a rough-and-tumble road-building crew, because his father is off fighting in World War II and his mother has taken a job in a factory. Paulsen's simply told story strikes extraordinary emotional chords, from the boy's wide-eyed wonder at the giant men and their giant machines, to his searing rage at his mother's new boyfriend (the real reason he's been packed off to the woods), to his profound love for his grandmother, to his aching loneliness for his mother. Paulsen expertly balances sensitive probing of the boy's mental and emotional life with superb descriptions of the boy helping the men build the road, making Paulsen's unnamed hero one of the most fully realized characters in recent memory. Those hungry for adventure stories, as well as more introspective readers, will be spellbound by this stirring novel, which is every bit the equal of The Winter Room and Paulsen's other works. Ages 10-12. (Mar.)