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Masters of Disaster


Masters of Disaster

Henry Mosley has a plan, and it involves his two best friends, Riley Dolen and Reed Hamner. Apparently, Henry, Riley and Reed are living incredibly boring 12-year-old lives in suburban Cleveland, and Henry vows to change all of that: “I’m working to create a series of tasks that will Prove Our Manhood and show us What We’re Made Of. And if we play our cards right, we might Alter the Course of History a time or two. And, of course, Impress Girls and Get Them to Notice Us.” Thus begins a series of adventures that will change the boys’ lives, or at least make them a little less boring.

First up is a chance for the boys to make a new world record: the most forward airborne somersaults on a bike. Henry, the one in charge, has devised a plan to drop a bike off the third story of a neighbor’s house to the pool below, which is equipped with a spring-loaded cover that should allow maximized bouncing capability. Riley, the one who is always prepared, will take field notes and record observations. That leaves Reed, the one who doesn’t know any better, to mount the bike and attempt the somersaults. Everything goes according to plan until Reed accidentally hits the diving board on the way down. When all is said and done, he ends up covered with used diapers, but is surprisingly eager for the next adventure.

After the disastrous yet somewhat successful first attempt at being less boring, Henry cooks up more schemes to liven things up a bit. These include camping in the deep woods, looking for specimens in dumpsters, solving 100-year-old mysteries, and becoming rugged cowboys at a ranch. Although seemingly prepared for each adventure, the boys just aren’t able to anticipate all of the things that could possibly go wrong. Who knew that tigers would be loose in the forest or that dumpster sludge could ignite? No one expected that bats would be in old caves or that electric fences could start a stampede.

Despite these impossibilities, the boys remain true to their main objective. Henry is always true and noble in attempting to get the boys noticed by girls. Riley is prepared in all circumstances and keeps expert documentation to bolster their reputation. Reed never fails to end up covered in some sort of poop, sludge, or grime that shows his fearlessness and fierceness. Will the boys’ plan work, or will they be subject to living dull lives forever?

MASTERS OF DISASTER is about what boys do best: have fun and get messy while doing it. Henry, Riley and Reed could easily be in any city across the country, and their hairbrained schemes are reminiscent of the good old days. Be careful, though, because they just might inspire you to get out and explore what the world has to offer. And you might end up covered in something disgusting. Gary Paulsen continues his winning streak in this new book about the unending adventures of friendship.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 9, 2011

Masters of Disaster
by Gary Paulsen

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2011
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0375866108
  • ISBN-13: 9780375866104