In This Side of Wild, Gary Paulsen draws on his lifetime of experiences with animals in this collection of stories that focus on the perceptive aspects of animal behaviour. In his experience, horses, dogs, a parrot, crows and other animals display extraordinary sensory, survival and loyalty characteristics often bordering on what we usually associate with the higher level (ie. “human”) thinking skills and problem solving. While humans may think they control and train animals, Paulsen’s thesis is that in many cases it is the animal who has control and man has the minor role. Animals like Corky, a Border Collie, saved him from a grizzly; the dog Gretchen communicated with him over numerous cups of coffee; the crows he observed that controlled human interference with their feeding schedule at a road stop; a rabbit who took shelter beneath his horse, and manipulated its gate, in order to escape coyotes. Paulsen’s anecdotes are written in a readable style in which he often shares the turning points in his own life that these animal encounters helped him to navigate. There are a few pen and ink illustrations to illustrate the stories.
Best suited for a Junior and Senior High audience.