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Alida's Song Paperback – April 10, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Paulsen revisits the terrain of various autobiographical writings (Father Water, Mother Woods; Eastern Sun, Winter Moon; and sections of My Life in Dog Years) for this affecting story of a pivotal summer. The 14-year-old protagonist, who is named only as "the boy," has been sliding slowly toward troubleAnearly flunking school, working odd jobs early in the morning and late at night, and sleeping near the furnace to avoid his perpetually drunk parents. So when the boy receives a letter from his grandmother Alida, asking that he come work on the farm, owned by two Norwegian brothers where she is employed as a cook, he is quick to accept. Paulsen brings his great skills as a naturalist and his enthusiasm for the outdoor life to descriptions of the boy's adjustment to the orderly farm, from vivid descriptions of an encounter with hostile geese to the work of milking cows and tending fields. The characterizations are deeply affectionate if a little Waltons-ish: Alida and the two farmers are strong, self-contained and yet keenly attuned to the boy's unstated needs. Several narrative frames neatly set off the effect of the farm interlude: the book begins as the protagonist, grown and in the Army, pays a visit to Alida, and it ends when he, "old enough to have grandchildren of his own," discovers that there was more behind that special summer than he had known. It's Paulsen's classic blend of emotion and ruggedness, as satisfying as ever. Ages 10-up. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Paulsen's autobiographical tale (Delacorte, 1999) follows the experiences of a 14-year-old protagonist referred to only as "the boy." Returning from the army as a young man, the boy visits his beloved grandmother Alida and recalls a summer from his youth when she changed his life. Living with his drunken parents, the boy survives doing odd jobs and hiding in the boiler room of his building. Struggling in school and within himself, one day he receives a letter from his grandmother inviting him to spend the summer with her. She has arranged work for him on the farm where she serves as the cook. He spends the summer working with the elderly farmers Gunnar and Olaf and learning to dance, to love music, and to appreciate the quiet steadiness that the farm provides. Luke Daniels's narration captures the affectionate nature of the story. He gives each character a unique voice, and his voicing of Gunnar is a standout. Listeners will fall in love with all the characters in the story as a result of Paulsen's vivid descriptions and Daniels's excellent reading.-Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Public Library, UTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first book by Paulsen which I read was Dog Song, which I found so revolting that I decided not to read any more of Paulsen's books. But Hatchet was recommended by several, so I read it and it is not bad. Then when I saw Alida's Song at a used curriculum sale, I picked it up. Aside from a few references to stealing, drinking alcohol, using tobacco, dancing (this would not be a problem for many people, but there are those of us who do have religious objections to social dancing), and swearing (the only actual instance of swearing is one use of "by god"--do authors really think that if they do not capitalize the word "god" that it really is not taking the Lord's name in vain?), this is not all that bad a book and does have good message to it.
It is identified as "a companion to The Cookcamp," an earlier book of Paulsen's that I have not read, of which it is said, "This short, lyrical novel concerns a five-year-old boy who is sent to the north woods of Minnesota to live with his grandmother, a cook for a rough-and-tumble road-building crew, because his father is off fighting in World War II and his mother has taken a job in a factory." Alida's Song apparently picks up the story some ten years later. I tire of children's books that present nuclear families as broken or dysfunctional, but those situations do exist and it is good that there are grandmothers like Alida who can step in and do something to help. The jacket cover calls it "a memorable novel about one of the most important and loving relationships in Gary Paulsen's life," so we might assume that while it is fictionalized, it is somewhat autobiographical. Common Sense Media said, "Parents need to know that clear writing and strong, wholesome characters are the trademarks of this pastoral novel." The book was reissued in 2001.
Although I am not much of a reader, Alida's Song, a book by Gary Paulsen, really caught my eye. Now I will tell you three reasons why this is the book for you. The first reason why you should read this book is it shows how a grandmother will do anything to help her grandson.. When she finds out her daughter and son-in-law are getting drunk and leaving their son hungry with no money, she brings him to the farm she works on to help out he learns a lot about his grandmother. There is also the compassion that he finds after he meets the Sirs' of the house. For example, as they are riding through the fields to get water from the well, he noticed few logs with beautiful faces while he is looking he notices one he said, "That is my grandma" Last, love is shared with his grandma and him. Every year there is a party thrown for Alida, and she can choose any man to dance with for her special song. She chooses her grandson because he turned out to be a special young man. Truly, I hope this is a book that you will enjoy as much as I did.