Back in Time
A six-year-old boy goes to spend the summer with his grandmother
Alida in a small town near the Canadian border. With the men all
gone off to fight, the women are left to run the farms. There’s
plenty for the boy to do—trying to help with the chores, getting
to know the dog, and the horses, cows, pigs, and chickens.
But when his cousin Kristina goes into labor, he can’t do
a thing. Instead, the house fills with women come to help and to
wait, and to work on a quilt together. This is no common, everyday
quilt, but one that contains all the stories of the boy’s
family. The quilt tells the truth, past and future: of happiness,
courage, and pain; of the greatest joy, and the greatest loss. And
as they wait, the women share these memorable stories with the boy.
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A remarkable novel about one of the most important and loving
relationships in Gary Paulsen's life.
The wonderful grandmother seen through the eyes of a young boy
in The Cookcamp reaches out to him at 14, offering him a
haven from his harsh and painful family life. She arranges a summer
job for him on the farm where she is a cook for Olaf and Gunnar,
elderly brothers. Farm life offers the camaraderie and routine of
hard work, good food, peaceful evenings spent making music together,
even learning to dance. Life with Alida gives the boy strength and
faith in himself, drawing him away from the edge and into the center
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In 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard enlisted in the
First Minnesota Volunteers. He was 15. He didn't rightly know what
a "shooting war" meant, or what he was fighting for. But he knew
he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure.
The "shooting war" meant the horror of combat, and the wild luck
of survival. It meant knowing how it feels to cross a field toward
the enemy, waiting for fire. Waiting for death.
When he entered the service he was only a boy. When he came back
he was only 19, but he was a man said to have "soldier's heart."
Battle by battle, Gary Paulsen shows us one boy's war through one
boy's eyes and one boy's heart, and gives a voice to all the anonymous
young men who fought in the Civil War.
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"To know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. We get
to wanting and when we get to wanting it's bad for them. They thinks
we want what they got ....That's why they don't want us reading."
"I didn't know what letters was, not what they meant, but I thought
it might be something I wanted to know. To learn." Sarny
Sarny, a female slave at the Waller plantation, first sees Nightjohn
when he is brought there with a rope around his neck, his body covered
He had escaped north to freedom, but he came back came back
to teach reading. Knowing that the penalty for reading is dismemberment
Nightjohn still retumed to slavery to teach others how to read.
And twelve-year-old Sarny is willing to take the risk to learn.
Set in the 1850s, Gary Paulsen's groundbreaking new novel is unlike
anything else the award-winning author has written. It is a meticulously
researched, historically accurate, and artistically crafted portrayal
of a grim time in our nation's past, brought to light through the
personal history of two unforgettable characters.
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So many readers have written and asked: What happened to Sarny,
the young slave girl who learned to read in Nightjohn? Extraordinary
things happened to her, from the moment she fled the plantation
in the last days of the Civil War, suddenly a free woman in search
of her sold-away children, until she found them and began a new
life. Sarny's story gives a panoramic view of America in a time
of trial, tragedy, and hoped-for change, until her last days in
Ages 12 up Paperback
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of Gary Paulsen © 2002 by C.E. Mitchell
Hillscape photo © 2002 by The Longhouse Company
© 2004, Random House, Inc.