Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fishbone's Song by Gary Paulsen

Fishbone is the nickname of the old man who is raising an orphan boy.  He tells tales.  There are three or four about how he got his name just like there are three or four stories about how the boy first appeared.  He doesn't really know how to raise a child, so he just tells him stories about the past.  The stories are sometimes fantasy, sometimes fact, and most always have a lesson.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 27th.

Mr. Paulsen has never written a bad book.  He first captured me with his book, Hatchet, and I've been reading his work since then.  This one is at least as good as Hatchet and that's saying something.

Fishbone is an odd old fellow who eats what they catch or find in the woods for greens, drinks moonshine on the porch, and talks or sings to the boy and the dog.  He has a lot of common sense, a lot of experience (including a war) and he teaches the boy by telling him how things are done.  If you kill something, you eat it.  If you make a bow, you need to make it out of the right wood.  If you're hungry, go hunting.  Nobody is happier than Fishbone if you bring home a good fish or a fat rabbit.

It reads like how life must have been almost a hundred years ago.  I recognize some of the life lessons and I grew up in a family where we ate what we hunted or fished or butchered and we grew our own vegetables and fruit and canned things.  These are old skills from the past that have practically died out now.  Life used to be simpler and I think that was a good thing.  You can rest assured they did not have wifi at their cabin near the woods.

Go back to a simpler time and learn about surviving.  You can watch the young man grow up and see when he realizes the time will come when he will have to move on and find his place in the world.  He's scared thinking about it, but no one lives forever and Fishbone is old.  He's going to be content with Fishbone for now, though.  He'll be ready when he needs to go.

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