Cover Image: Northwind

Northwind

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Member Reviews

Intense. The images just keep on coming. Gary Paulsen is a master at painting the scene for his readers and he outdoes himself in "Northwind". On the surface, the plot sounds simple. A boy left alone in the wilderness through no fault of his own and forced to rely on his own wits and ability to learn from events and his own mistakes. Hey, I think I've heard that story before! Yes, the wilderness and self-reliance are a common theme in many Paulsen books but this time he's taken us to sea, to sea in a small canoe. Paulsen, an avid sailor, combines his wilderness lore and knowledge of the sea to create a memorable picture of a boy becoming a man against the backdrop of the sea, a sea that includes swirling tides, whales, and even icebergs. While I can see this being a bit too intense for some young readers.... the target is middle grades .... he has another winner in "Northwind". 

I live in Alaska and have observed whales from a small boat, one that appeared relatively large at the dock but suddenly seemed dwarfed when surrounded by leaping, playing whales. I remember the awe of thinking I could almost reach out and touch a mother whale that came up alongside where I stood, then dived and swam directly under our boat. Thus, I could experience some of the awe and unease Leif, the main character, must have felt when encountering these massive, majestic creatures. Bears are common, too, in Alaska, often in our own yards, so I shuddered when Leif came practically face to face with one. Ravens? Everywhere and I chuckled at the descriptions of their calls. It should come as no surprise to any but new readers that Gary Paulsen once lived in Alaska. He knows the north. Blending that knowledge with Nordic mythology, he makes the experience, both the wondrous and frightening ones, real. Like Leif, I have to wonder if Paulsen is also always looking north, even when at the helm of a sailboat, as he keeps on learning and sharing the oneness of nature with us.

Thank you NetGallery and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC.
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Nightwind is Gary Paulson at his best- boy versus wild, on an adventure to survive and find himself.  Leif is faced with challenge after challenge,  never knowing what might arise around the next island.  Up against disease, bears, killer whales, hunger and many other dangers, he continues to make his way north at the advice of Old Carl. The historical fiction twist aired with the survival story will remind the reader of a mash up of Hatchet and Island of the Blue Dolphins- a perfect pair for fans of this genre.
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Of course, I enjoy any book that Gary Paulsen writes. However this one is perfect for the historical fiction crowd.. Northwind is perfect from the cover until the last page. love the cover!
In Northwind, we follow a boy on a Nordic adventure and with the hints of mythology, I can't think of a better book to while away a winter afternoon.
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This was a gorgeously written book, but it was not very compelling. I am unsure if children would enjoy it, but literary adults who love breathtaking vistas and beautiful landscapes sure would! Also, people who appreciate Norse mythology!
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I really love Leif's story of survival.  The Norse mythology that is sprinkled within this novel is great and I would recommend to anyone who wants to have a bit of mythology in their novels!
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The ending of this book jumped out at me so unexpectedly, I had to reread the previous pages to see what clues I’d missed that the end was near. (I believe Paulsen left an opening for a sequel.)

I enjoyed the visuals that weave through Northwind. Leif’s battles with nature rang true, although how he survived, only Odin knows. And speaking of Odin, where and when in the world is the setting for this book?  In reading the Author’s Note, I realize it is in Paulsen’s imagination. 
I am a huge fan of Hatchet. This is no Hatchet. People will expect to compare it to Hatchet. This is a more spiritual, reflective story. This is a memoir set to prose. This is a book written of love.

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me access to Northwind.
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Growing up, I read "Hatchet" in school, and I overall enjoyed that book. There were many other students that were hooked on it, and I think this is another great survival story. I actually loved this book, preferring it to "Hatchet!" I loved the focus on the ocean with the nods to Norse mythology, and since interest is rising in mythology, I think this book will do well. I will be purchasing this for myself, recommending for my library, and recommending it for my mother to purchase as she is a middle school teacher.
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In a tone reminiscent of 'Island of the Blue Dolphins,' we follow Leif on his journey through the northern waters nearly a millennia ago.  For the student who is very into whales, oceans, or wildlife, this could be an interesting read.  For the student who struggles with reading, I probably would not give them this book.  The concepts and premise are excellent, following in other survival type stories, but the flow (perhaps to mimic the water's flow?) makes it difficult to read at times.
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Based on some of Paulsen’s experiences with the sea and a hint of Norse mythology thrown in, Leif is forced to leave his village when a fever kills many people. He has a cedar canoe, a kite, an ax, and the canoe “spirit.” Along his sea journey, Leif meets bears, many whales, eagles and ravens. When Leif gets caught in a whirlpool and his canoe is overturned, he realizes he needs to pay better attention so it won’t happen again. As he travels, he finds swifter currents and deeper canyons along with many killer whales and dolphins. He watches and learns from the dolphins how to ride the waves. He comes across more gray whales and tries to avoid their open mouths as they feed. One day he sees something blue. Is it a ship? Are they hunting whales? As he travels, Leif finds “he is learning to learn, knowing more.”
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