Set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Rolf in the Woods follows a young boy on his journey to becoming a man, learning how to live in the wilderness, respecting animals and nature, and fighting amongst his brethren in war.
When his mother passes away, fifteen-year-old Rolf goes to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm. But his aunt’s constant scolding and his uncle’s drunken violence make living in this new home unbearable for the gentle boy, and he runs away to live in a wigwam with Quonab, a Native American, and his trusty dog Skookum, who teach the boy how to live off the land, hunt, gather, and understand wild creatures. These newfound skills come into play when Rolf must participate in the War of 1812, and he is able to survive by relying on the wisdom the Indian has shared with him.
Rolf in the Woods is not only an adventure story but also a guide that teaches young men how to thrive in the outdoors. Ernest Thompson Seton, an avid outdoorsman, provides vivid descriptions of Quonab’s lessons, like making a bed with logs, constructing a tom-tom, distinguishing the calls of animals, and making a bow and arrow, and includes over 200 hand-drawn illustrations to make these lessons come to life.