by Paulsen, Gary. (Orchard, 1989 ISBN 0-531-08439-6) Novel. pages. Grades 5+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
This is a brief, intense novel with incredible descriptive scenes. As a young boy and his older brother Wayne grow up on a farm in northern Minnesota, we are witness to vivid scenes of farm life. In the bleak winters Uncle David tells stories in the winter room (a room only used in winter) of an almost mythological logging past. The boys doubt the truth of his stories and say so, thus hurting David so much he stops telling stories. It is only when the boys sneak into the barn to watch Uncle David and witness his incredible control of the axes that they begin to believe his stories are true and convince their uncle to resume the storytelling.
The prologue to this book Paulsen calls "Honing" and it is full of sensory images that set the mood and tenor of the book. It is worth reading aloud and savoring. Students might then like to go on to other strong beginnings in books which set the stage for what is to come. Lois Lowry's prologue in Autumn Street has an equally strong first chapter which also serves as epilogue to the book. Does "Honing" serve in the same way?
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In Times Past
by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis
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