Books by Ruth Wright Paulsen

CANOE DAYS by Gary Paulsen
Released: March 9, 1999

The Paulsens' picture book offers a tranquil, meditative idyll that glides as easily as a canoe on still water. The beauty of a solitary day on a lake springs to life through poetic words and serene illustrations, which are appropriately hazy and luminous by turns. But while the protagonist lazily paddles and rests, the natural world bustles around him: fish dart and feed under water; animals bathe and hunt in the wood; birds and insects flit overhead. This observant and understated look into nature is both soothing and surprising. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS by Gary Paulsen
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

Paulsen paid loving tribute to the sled dogs in his life in Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers (1996) so gives eight more canine companions equal time: Snowball, who saved his life when he was seven, to Caesar, an enthusiastic Great Dane who "overwhelmed the furniture" but was gentle with children, to Fred, who did battle with an electric fence, to Quincy, who did battle with a bear that attacked the author's wife. Thoughtful, ironic, often hilarious, these vivid character portraits not only make winning stories, but convey a deep respect for all dogs: "They are wonderful and, I think, mandatory for decent human life." (Memoir. 10-13) Read full book review >
WORKSONG by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1997

The Paulsens (Woodsong, 1990, etc.) create a song—really a lyric verse—in praise of ordinary workers, a refreshing slant for a culture mired in the worship of celebrity. "It is keening noise and jolting sights,/and houses up and trees in sun,/and trucks on one more midnight run." The text doesn't always name the job or worker, but refers to an aspect of it—the mentions of "flat, clean sidewalks" and "towering buildings" force readers to think about the sweepers and construction teams pictured in the illustrations. The artwork serves a dual purpose: The oil paintings gorgeously convey a tangible sense of the work environment while also ennobling its humble inhabitants. Among those shown: the woman who toils in the canteen kitchen ("making things for all to share"), workers at computer terminals ("offices filled with glowing screens"), a new mother and nurse ("gentle arms that lift and hold"). Last and surely not least, the text acknowledges why people work: "It's mother, father in a chair,/with tired eyes and loosened hair./Resting short but loving long,/resting for the next day's song. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Readers who aren't misled by the New Age subtitle—"Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs"—will find themselves along on a wonderful ride. Paulsen (Brian's Winter, 1996, etc.) is not known for writing love stories, but that's exactly what this lyrical, tender account is, showcasing Cookie, his primary lead dog for some 14,000 miles (including the path of the Iditarod), who saved Paulsen's life more than once. It's also the story of one of Cookie's litters of pups and the joy and inspiration Paulsen found in watching them learn and grow. He has fascinating tales to tell about how Cookie and the other adult dogs trained them. All wasn't work for the pups; the fun they had when Paulsen broke one of the cardinal rules for raising pups and let them into his house makes for a sidesplitting tale. The story remains, always, Cookie's, and when the day comes that she can no longer run because of arthritis, it nearly breaks her heart—and Paulsen's too. Upon learning that his health will no longer permit him to run either, man and dog settle into a different life, one of domestic companionship, until Cookie's blessedly peaceful death (there will be, as they say, no dry eyes in the house). "Such a bond, such a love I had with Cookie"—and such a book he wrote to share that love with others. (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >
DOGTEAM by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

The author and his wife celebrate their longtime avocation of training sled dogs (Gary Paulsen has twice run the Iditarod). The text—crisp phrases, peremptory as barks, contrast with lyrical descriptions of the dogs' single-minded dedication to rushing onward—follows one glorious moonlit run, from harnessing and setting the dogs free ("The dance. Through the trees, in and out, the sled whipping after them through the trees with no sound but the song of the runners, the high-soft-shusshh-whine of the runners") to the return home and the dogs, still in harness, singing ("Did you did you did you did you.../Did you want it to last forever?"). Ruth Paulsen's individualized, delicately drawn dogs are all tension and action, beautifully set off by a more generalized watercolor background of forest, snow, and sky. An inspired collaboration vividly re-creating an exhilarating experience. (Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
THE HAYMEADOW by Gary Paulsen
Released: June 1, 1992

Left in a remote mountain pasture to care for 6000 sheep, a Wyoming rancher's 14-year-old son has a typical Paulsen series of adventures. Tink, loyal hand who usually watches the herd, is dying of cancer, and John's widowed dad is with him; the ranch's taciturn other hand helps get the sheep to the haymeadow and leaves John with little instruction. But the boy is capable and courageous; in just two days, he has to deal with a skunk, a rattlesnake, a wounded dog, a stampede, a flash flood, a pack of voracious coyotes, and an injury that nearly kills him; remarkably, he recovers with the loss of a few sheep and the labels off his canned goods—only to confront a vicious bear. After 47 days, his dad comes to report that Tink, miraculously, is recovering; he plans to leave next morning but—after the first real talk father and son have ever had—decides to stay on for the summer's last weeks. Good enough as an adventure; Paulsen's trademark run-on sentences keep it moving, and he certainly understands coping with the wild, though the perils here are so unbelievably many that they become laughable. Meanwhile, John's fixation on the self-reliant great-grandfather who founded the ranch is not well enough integrated with either the action or the present-day relationships to serve its ostensible purpose of motivating John's character and behavior. An entertaining yarn, but a minor literary effort. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >