December 2, 2023

The Student News Site of
Garnet Valley High School

Winterdance by Gary Paulsen

Published in March 1994 by Harcourt

As many people know, Gary Paulsen is known for his notorious books about the wilderness. After running away from home as a young child, Paulsen knows what adventure consists of and he incorporates this in his works. Out of the 200 plus books he has written, Winterdance is among the most popular; Paulsen guides his reader along in his race through the stark tundra, frozen lakes, and thick forests of the Iditarod. In 1997, Paulsen deservingly won the Margaret A. Edwards award for all his achievements in writing young-adult literature.

It was Paulsen and his dogs, against the Alaskan wilderness. Typically, competitors finish the infamous Iditarod in eight to fifteen days, but not for Gary Paulsen and his team of fifteen dogs. After making a few wrong turns, Gary Paulsen finds himself and his team in the midst of snows storms, moose attacks, and dogfights, all while suffering from extreme fatigue and frostbite; the 1180 mile race then became even longer for the team.

If you have a divine love and passion for dogs and adventure, then Winterdance is a book you should consider reading. Paulsen’s words help one appreciate the connection and relationship between a dog and its owner. In addition, he builds respect for the Iditarod. The 1180 mile beasts take bravery, perseverance, skill and knowledge of not only the dogs but the outdoors as well. The book also builds respect for the people that participate in the race. It takes years of preparation and training to become ready for the Iditarod. Participants spend countless hours getting their dogs and themselves prepared for the adventure they are about to endure.

Despite all of the hardships, Paulsen undergoes during the race, he goes on to do the race two more times. Out of the whole book, I learned the most from that specific detail. Paulsen depicts how rewarding it is to overcome such difficult obstacles. After going through all that he went through, Paulsen went on to race again after developing an appreciation for the wilderness and the deep bond it helps create between him and his dogs. Through this book, one experiences a real-life example of how the grass is greener on the other side. In the beginning, one might be discouraged about all of the work it takes to do something they want to do, however, after overcoming those obstacles it is even more rewarding when you obtain your goal; everything leading up to that point was worth it.

If you enjoy reading about the wilderness, dogs, adventure, and success then I suggest reading, Winterdance. It is exhilarating, following Paulsen’s journey and reading about how he persevered through everything the wilderness had to throw at him.

Written by Morgan Lovelace


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