Topics for Discussion

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1. Hawk, the banty hen, hatched out the eggs of the ruffed grouse. Discuss how Hawk's love for her adopted chicks was similar to Paulsen's love for his dogs.

2. Paulsen indicates that he had lived most of life in the woods but that he knew nothing until it was almost too late. Identify and discuss the events that led to his "awakening."

3. At the end of the Iditarod, Paulsen seemed reluctant to cross the finish line. In fact he thought about turning around and going back out on the trail. Why?

4. To whom is the book Woodsong dedicated? What is its significance?

5. What are some of the lessons of survival and of the woods that Paulsen learned from both the wild and the domestic animals?

6. Many of the animal characters in Paulsen's book seem to have distinct personalities. Discuss the "personalities" of Storm, Columbia, Cookie, and Fred. Some critics have accused Paulsen of anthropomorphism (giving human characteristics or personalities to non-human things). Do you think he is guilty of this or is he merely describing events as they happen?

7. Identify and discuss the most difficult challenges that Paulsen faced during the Iditarod. Are there any ways that he could have been better prepared for them?

8. In the first part of the book, who is the "Eskimo man" who helps Paulsen when he becomes ill during a storm? Is he the same man who reappears during the Iditarod?

9. Paulsen is a skilled writer, however at times he uses sentence fragments and even single words as complete sentences. Why does he do this? Is it effective?

10. Paulsen indicates that he participated in the Iditarod although he did not seriously expect to win. What caused him to do that? Do you think he will enter the race again? Why?

11. Discuss the meaning of the title. Identify the "songs" that Paulsen talks about in the book.

12. After escaping from Scarface's attack, Paulsen returns with a gun to shoot the bear. Discuss his decision not to pull the trigger. Do you agree with it?

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