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Gary Paulsen

Biography

Gary Paulsen

Born May 17, 1939, Gary Paulsen is one of America's most popular writers for young people. Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read --- along with his own library card --- he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dogsled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his powerful stories.

Paulsen's realization that he would become a writer came suddenly when he was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California. One night he walked off the job, never to return. He spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader, working on his own writing every night. Then he left California and drove to northern Minnesota where he rented a cabin on a lake; by the end of the winter, he had completed his first novel.

Living in the remote Minnesota woods, Paulsen eventually turned to the sport of dogsled racing, and entered the 1983 Iditarod. In 1985, after running the Iditarod for the second time, he suffered an attack of angina and was forced to give up his dogs. "I started to focus on writing with the same energies and efforts that I was using with dogs. So we're talking 18-, 19-, 20-hour days completely committed to work. Totally, viciously, obsessively committed to work, the way I'd run dogs....I still work that way, completely, all the time. I just work. I don't drink, I don't fool around, I'm just this way....The end result is there's a lot of books out there."

It is Paulsen's overwhelming belief in young people that drives him to write. His intense desire to tap deeply into the human spirit and to encourage readers to observe and care about the world around them has brought him both enormous popularity with young people and critical acclaim from the children's book community. Paulsen is a master storyteller who has written more than 175 books and some 200 articles and short stories for children and adults. He is one of the most important writers of young adult literature today, and three of his novels --- HATCHET, DOGSONG, and THE WINTER ROOM --- are Newbery Honor Books. His books frequently appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association.

Paulsen has received many letters from readers (as many as 200 a day) telling him they felt Brian Robeson's story in HATCHET was left unfinished by his early rescue, before the winter came and made things really tough. They wanted to know what would happen if Brian were not rescued, if he had to survive in the winter. Paulsen says, "I researched and wrote BRIAN'S WINTER, showing what could and perhaps would have happened had Brian not been rescued."

In Paulsen's book, GUTS: The True Stories Behind HATCHET and the Brian Books, Paulsen shares his own adventures in the wild, which are often hilarious and always amazing: moose attacks, heart attacks, near-misses in planes, and looking death in the eye.

Paulsen has written a time-travel novel, THE TRANSALL SAGA, which was named an ALA Quick Pick. And in the heartwrenching story SOLDIER'S HEART, Paulsen brings the Civil War to life battle by battle, as readers see the horror of combat and its devastating results through the eyes of 15-year-old Charley Goddard.

Paulsen and his wife Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific.

Gary Paulsen

Books by Gary Paulsen

by Gary Paulsen - Children's

Kevin Spencer is the glue that holds his family together. When his wacky relatives decide to have a double wedding in the backyard, Kevin takes charge. Planning two weddings is a great way to impress his girlfriend, Tina Zabinski, the Most Beautiful and Best-Smelling Girl in the World.

by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen - Children's, Family, Fiction

Ben and his dad haven't been getting along lately, so when Dad suggests a road trip to rescue a border collie, Ben sees right through his plan. To avoid the bonding road trip, Ben invites  his thuggish friend Theo, and Atticus, the family dog along for the ride. Told from the point of view of Ben and Atticus, this will be a road trip Ben never forgets.

by Gary Paulsen - Young Adult 9+

Readers met the comical Kevin in LIAR, LIAR AND FLAT BROKE. Kevin gets serious about Tina Zabinski, the Most Beautiful Girl in the World. Finally, finally, he's worked up his courage --- he's going to ask her out. Or will his trademark scheming get in his way?

by Gary Paulsen - Fiction, Young Adult 9+

Fourteen-year-old Kevin Spencer has a huge crush on Tina Zabinski. To Kevin, Tina is “the most beautiful girl in the world.” He’s working up the courage to ask her out on a date, but every time he’s around her, he makes a fool of himself.

by Gary Paulsen

Jake, Jo and Jamie --- the main characters in Gary Paulsen's dark and gritty novellas --- share common backgrounds. They come from broken homes and live in unsafe environments. Yet, in their dismal worlds, they find hope through the beauty of art or the unconditional love of dogs.

by Gary Paulsen - Fiction

Kevin doesn't mean to make trouble when he lies; he's just really good at it, and it makes life so much easier. But as his lies pile up, he finds himself in big --- and funny --- trouble with his friends, family, and teachers, and he's got to find a way to end his lying streak --- forever.