Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen is a book I found early last year; in fact I read it soon after last year's Newbery awards were announced in January. I fell in love with the gritty, survival nature of the story, and so was delighted to see it mentioned on several mock Newbery lists.
Paulsen didn't pull any punches when it came to some of the travesties of war. In fact, in the afterword, Paulsen specifically says that he didn't try to "clean up" the details of the War for Indpendence. He lets the reader know that this was long, bloody war of 8 years. I admire that he didn't gloss over details, but told a fictionalized story about a boy trying to survive and find his parents against a backdrop of some pretty horrific incidents.
Woods Runner is historical fiction, but Paulsen puts a very unique twist in with his fictional story. Before almost every chapter, he has inserted factual information that helps build the reader's background knowledge about the time, people, and events in the story. I've heard some people say they thought it detracted from the story, but for me, that factual information was critical to my understanding of this time in history. I really loved Woods Runner in all its format.
For more of my thoughts about WoodsRunner, check out my post last January.
So exciting -- 4 days until the Newbery!! Who will be the winner? :)