The Rifle

The Rifle

3.3 30
by Gary Paulsen
     
 

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A treasured rifle passed down through generations is the cause of a tragic accident in this timely tale. With subtle mastery and precision, this tough, thought-provoking novel challenges the idea that firearms don't become instruments of destruction and murder until they are placed in human hands. See more details below

Overview

A treasured rifle passed down through generations is the cause of a tragic accident in this timely tale. With subtle mastery and precision, this tough, thought-provoking novel challenges the idea that firearms don't become instruments of destruction and murder until they are placed in human hands.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A gifted storyteller, Paulsen could have plucked this plot straight from any newspaper-an accidental shooting with a loaded gun. This tragedy doesn't occur until the final pages, however; with consummate skill, Paulsen slowly sets the stage by focusing on the weapon itself, a rifle made in 1768 and subsequently used in the Revolutionary War. He documents the painstaking, labor-intensive process of crafting a rifle by hand. And not just any rifle, but one that is "sweet"-a weapon of both beauty and deadly accuracy. He tracks its history, from the attic in which it languishes for centuries to the hands of an ultra-conservative gun freak (whose small-mindedness Paulsen exposes in withering detail), to the home of a mechanic who accepts it in trade for an auto repair. Only then do readers meet the boy Richard and sense impending doom. The remaining pages unfold with nervewracking leisure as readers squirm, awaiting the inevitable explosion. Although he sometimes uses his novel as a bully pulpit to fight the argument that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," his magnificent prose is as "sweet" as the rifle about which he writes. A truly mesmerizing tale, from beginning to end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
The ALAN Review - Chris Crowe
"It is necessary to know this rifle," begins Paulsen. He then describes the creation in 1768 and early history of a one-of-a-kind muzzle-load rifle. After brief use in the Revolutionary War, the gun is stored in a farmhouse attic where it remains, forgotten for more than 200 years. It is found in 1993 and eventually ends up hanging over the fireplace of a house in a small Missouri town. The next section of the book opens with, "It is necessary to know this boy," the boy who is killed when the rifle discharges accidentally. This book is unusual in that an object - the rifle - not a character, is the focus of the text. Paulsen describes in minute detail the construction and workings of the rifle and relates its history in a detached voice laced with foreboding and tension. The message of Paulsen's history of the rifle: guns kill people.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Paulsen writes wonderful stories about teen boys placed in physically and emotionally challenging situations and overcoming hardships. In The Rifle there is a major change. The main character is not a boy at all, but a rifle. Not an ordinary, modern one, but a revolutionary-war-era hand-made "sweet" gun. Its making is described as carefully as the gun itself was made. And its history is documented up to 1993, when the plot twists satisfyingly.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This novella focuses on a specific weapon crafted during the Revolutionary War. At the book's conclusion, set in 1994, this rifle still functions and performs as it was designed to do. Paulsen, who can create vivid portraits of individuals in relation to specific places, takes the focus off the people here, although they remain distinct characters, and puts this object-a rifle-at the core of the story. Although he seems to be saying that people don't kill people, guns do, this message is not sustained. The circumstances seem so unique and the love of weaponry so strong that the anti-gun theme is fatally weakened. For anyone whose mind is made up on this issue, this book will probably not change it. However, it could lead to intense discussion and exploration of how our society has evolved into its present gun-loving culture and into the intense anguish and human cost we collectively ignore as we continue our love affair with weaponry. For readers willing to think about this issue, for those looking for ways to introduce the debate, there is no better vehicle than this short, engagingly written story of one rifle and its fatal impact on one modern boy.-Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
From the Publisher

"For readers willing to think about this issue . . . there is no better vehicle than this short, engagingly written story of one rifle and its fatal impact on one modern boy."--School Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780780769854
Publisher:
Perfection Learning Prebound
Publication date:
09/01/1997
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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