An orphan reflects on the lessons he was taught by the wise old man who raised him in this lyrical novel that reads like poetry from three-time Newbery Honor–winning author Gary Paulsen.
Deep in the woods, in a rustic cabin, lives an old man and the boy he’s raised as his own. This sage old man has taught the boy the power of nature and how to live in it, and more importantly, to respect it. In Fishbone’s Song, this boy reminisces about the magic of the man who raised him and the tales that he used to tell—all true, but different each time.
Paulsen (This Side of Wild) again mines themes of resourcefulness and respect for nature in this introspective story of a boy raised in the woods by an elderly hermit. The unnamed young narrator's life is built on uncertainty: he doesn't know when or where he was born, or how he came to live with Fishbone. What he does know is the power of the man's "story-songs," which include poignant flashbacks to serving in the Korean War, his baby sister's death from cholera, and two lost chances at "for sure and true love." Fishbone's stories also serve as character-building lessons, emphasizing the need to live off the land yet leave "No tracks, not a wrinkle to show you were there. No waste. No want. No bother to nobody or no thing." Gradually, the boy learns to search beyond the surface of both nature and Fishbone's anecdotes to find at the center "a seed" that "meant more than the story." His observation that Fishbone "never seemed to waste a word or a thought" aptly describes Paulsen's feat with this compact and eloquent novel. Ages 10 up.