As I finish up the invitations for my kids’ birthday party happening at a local nature discovery center, I’m reminded of a few of my favorite outdoor novels. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a Gary Paulsen story, but then there’s a movie-adapted nonfiction tale by a master storyteller/investigator, and a newer-ish coming of age juxtaposing a human and an animal that may just be an emerging trend.
What I love about Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod wasn’t so much the story of his actually running it, instead, it was the magical way Paulsen describes his bond with the dogs and the runs he did in preparation. I specifically remember a few scenes where his imagery takes over your five senses and you’re touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing all of the glorious things nature serves up, if only you took time out to do so. It’s that beauty that he captures that’s perfection.
In Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, the ultimate man versus nature saga trumps the mystery of why Chris would venture to the Alaskan expanse. For me the speculation about all that he must have endured and the lasting image of the young man’s body in the abandoned bus that graces the front cover is fascinating. How could one survive with so little?
And last, Martin Marten, set at the foot of Mount Hood is a spectacular feast that rolls and twists every cool National Geographic WILD show into a side-by-side comparison to the toils of teenage life. Its rich language is as much a treat as the intelligence that shows in how the story is told, yet only a tad maddening as Doyle does not use quotation marks for dialogue: readers must pay close attention to every word in response which plays to its richness.
So here’s to truly wonderful examples of how we all must slow down just a bit and enjoy nature, whether it’s by actually experiencing it or reading about it to make us remember.