THE COOKCAMP by Gary Paulsen
Kirkus Star

THE COOKCAMP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sent, at five, to live with his grandmother in the wilds of northern Minnesota--where she is cook for nine rough men who are building a road from nowhere to nowhere (in case the vicissitudes of WW II should make it useful)--"the boy" experiences a brief, idyllic interlude tempered by longing for his mother, as well as by other carefully selected intrusions of reality. His grandmother is quintessentially accepting and, better yet, sensible and imaginative: she gives him real work to do helping her prepare meals, tells him how to make friends with the chipmunks, makes a game of exploring her sewing box. The men, whose awesome size Paulsen astutely describes from a small boy's point of view, adopt him wholeheartedly--take him aboard the bulldozer; buy him a real knife; care for him while his grandmother takes an injured man to the hospital. But, in the long run, these treats are not enough. The boy lets slip that he's been sent from Chicago because his mother is involved with another man while his father is in the army; the grandmother promptly writes some deeply felt letters that result in his going home. A poignant final chapter provides context by summarizing the grand-mother's long life. The audience for this spare, beautifully written vignette is a question; it may take some introduction, but is well worth creative experimentation: a readaloud for good listeners in the early grades? adults? Meanwhile, like The Winter Room (1989), a memorable evocation of a special time and place, grounded in authentic insight into deeper truths.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-531-05927-8
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000




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