Farrar. Jan. 2022. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374314200.
Gr 4-6–The illustrious Paulsen, who wrote more than 200 books for children and adults, passed away October 2021. Northwind is his final novel, and what a gem it is. This accessible, captivating adventure story is destined to become another Paulsen classic: a lightly historical fiction sea story, set on the Coast of Norway, and inspired by his impressive sailing adventures in the Pacific Northwest. Leif, an orphan, is sent off north in a cedar canoe with basic survival supplies after his village comes down with cholera. With hints of Nordic mythology, the story follows Leif as he survives the sickness, learns how to catch fish, and finds blackberries while staying clear of bears. He witnesses the power and beauty of inlets, the ocean, orcas, dolphins, whales, and icebergs. The language is simple but rhythmically captivating; some paragraphs are a sentence long and some words or phrases are repeated to dig deeper into a concept. Chapters are 10-15 pages long and episodic, an important authorial choice that will draw in more than just avid readers.
VERDICT An essential purchase for libraries serving middle grade and YA readers. Kids will be captivated by Leif’s inner monologue as he makes life-and-death decisions and reflects on the lure of the north, and the power of the sea.

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