About Gary Paulsen
“We have been passive. We have been stupid. We have been lazy. We have done all the things we could do to destroy ourselves. If there is any hope at all for the human race, it has to come from young people. Not from adults.”—Gary Paulsen
A three-time Newbery Honor winner, Gary Paulsen is also winner of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author’s lifetime contribution to writing books for teenagers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Writing is so much a part of the way I live . . .
Writing is so much a part of the way I live that I would be lost without the discipline and routine. I write every day—every day—and it gives me balance and focus. Every day I wake up, usually at 4:30 a.m., with the sole purpose of sitting down to write with a cup of hot tea and a computer or a laptop or a pad of paper—it doesn’t matter. I’ve written whole books in my office, in a dog kennel with a headlamp, on more airplanes than I can remember, on the trampoline of my catamaran off the shores of Fiji—it never matters where I write, just where the writing takes me.
Everything else I do is just a path to get me to that moment when I start to work. Sometimes I’m lucky and the living part of life gets folded into the writing part, like with Dogsong and the Brian books and Caught by the Sea and How Angel Peterson Got His Name. Those books were based on personal inspection at zero altitude, I took experiences that I had and turned them into books. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, but not with the specific goal of writing about it later. I’ll be honest, though, and tell you that I enjoyed writing about those times as much as, if not more than, I enjoyed living through those times in the first place. I didn’t start writing until I was 26 years old. I look back now and wonder what I thought I was supposed to be doing with my time before that.
I’ve experimented with different voices and styles . . .
Sometimes the way to tell a story is even more important than the story itself. I’ve experimented with different voices and styles and genres over the years. The Glass Café and Harris and Me were born of the voices of people I could not get out of my head. Tony was a boy I knew back when I lived in Hollywood and Harris was a cousin from my childhood. To honor their voices, I wrote the books in very different styles. Tony had a fast-paced, breathless speaking style and I had fun trying to capture that on paper. And the best way to paint a picture of Harris was to detail all those crazy stunts of his.
Nightjohn and Soldier’s Heart were the result of studying history. Sarny came from the research I did in the National Archives when I stumbled across the Slave Narratives. And I discovered Charley Goddard when reading a book about the Minnesota First Volunteers. I hadn’t expected to find characters for books of my own when I started reading, but I could not shake them until I tried to figure out on paper what their lives must have been like.
I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me . . .
Even after all these years, I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me. There is not only the satisfaction from the hard work—and even after all this time and all these books, it is still very hard work for me to make a book—and the way the hair rises on the back of my neck when a story works for me, but also the relationships I have made with the people who read my books.
The one true measure of success for me has always been the readers . . .
People ask me about the kind of money I make and how many awards I’ve received, but the one true measure of success for me
has always been the readers. I give the checks to my wife and my agent keeps the awards for me. The only thing I have in my office, other than junk and work and research, is a framed letter from one of my readers. That means more to me than just about anything else, the letters
I get from the people who read my books.
Thank you for reading my books and for writing to me. Read like a wolf eats. Read.
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. For more information about Gary Paulsen, visit www.garypaulsen.com
“Readers will want to savor this stirring book.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
THE BEET FIELDS
“The ultimate coming-of-age story. . . . Exceptional and so heartbreakingly real.”—Starred, Booklist
“Paulsen crafts a companion/sequel to Hatchet containing many of its same pleasures. . . . Read together, the two books make his finest tale of survival yet.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
HOW ANGEL PETERSON GOT HIS NAME
“These episodes will not only keep young readers, of both sexes, in stitches, they’re made to order for reading aloud.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
“Superb characterizations, splendidly evoked setting, and thrill-a-minute plot make this book a joy to gallop through.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly
MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS
“A treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more. . . . His writing percolates with energetic love.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly
A Life Remembered
“A satisfying sequel. . . . It is a great read, with characters both to hate and to cherish, and a rich sense of what it really was like then.”—Starred, Booklist
“The novel’s spare, simple language and vivid visual images of brutality and death on the battlefield make it accessible and memorable to young people.”—Starred, Booklist
THE TRANSALL SAGA
“A riveting science fiction adventure. . . . Captivating.”—Starred, Booklist
author fun facts
Born: May 17 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Previous jobs: Farm hand, ranch hand, truck driver, sailor, dogsled racer, teacher, field engineer, editor, soldier, actor, director, trapper, professional archer, migrant farm worker, singer
Hobbies: Sailing, collecting and riding Harley Davidsons; twice ran the Iditarod, the challenging 1,000 mile dogsled race across Alaska
Inspiration for writing: After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--Gary was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.
From the Hardcover edition.
"This book is obviously a feast for the outdoor lover -- the hunter, the fisherman, or camper -- but it will also draw those who love the beauty of the carefully crafted description, so detailed and vivid that the reader can feel the warming of spring days and taste the bullhead.... Above all, Father Water, Mother Woods is the essence of Paulsen, the revelation of the author himself and why he writes as he does." -- Booklist
-- "Here's a real rock 'em sock 'em ripsnorter...in 1848, a fourteen-year-old boy is captured from an Oregon-bound wagon train by Pawnee Indians and saved by a one-armed mountain man, Mr. Grimes....Superb characterization, splendidly evoked setting, and thrill-a-minute plot make this book a joy to gallop through."
-- Publishers Weekly, Starred
An Ala Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults
"The narrator is twelve-year-old Sarny, slated by her cruel plantation owner to become a breeder like her mother....But as Sarny waits with apprehension...she sneaks into the last days of her childhood in an effort to learn how to read from John....Paulsen is at his best here." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
-- "Among the most powerful of Paulsen's works."
-- Publishers Weekly, Starred
From the Hardcover edition.
NOTE TO TEACHERS
My initial inspiration for creating Mr. Tucket was to cover the West with a single person. I hate to use the word saga, but it's kind of that. I thought of a boy going through the various aspects of the West when it was forming, starting with the mountain men, to what we view as the West--you know, the West of the cowboys.
One of the reasons I think that Francis has become popular is that I think there are similarities between Francis Tucket and Brian in Hatchet. Both boys must deal with a survival situation. I think that the theme of having to face real problems that have happened to real people at one time or another--especially to face them as a young person--is very intriguing to readers, especially young readers. When I was young and I was hunting, I would get into trouble--get caught in storms, blizzards, and that sort of thing. I found those experiences very challenging and intense and I think that feeling comes across in the books.
One of the reasons I put Francis in the Mexican War in Tucket's Ride was because the Mexican War has historically been ignored in writing. Historians jump right from mountain men to cowboys and longhorns and topics like that. I wanted to discuss, or at least have something move through, the Mexican War, which was a silly time--an absolutely crazy time--for America because it was an outright war of aggression by America.
The reaction I've had from teachers and librarians is that they want more. Some specifically ask to have Francis go to a certain spot and deal with specific historical events. I get quite a bit of mail like that. It would be impossible to have him do everything that teachers want me to have him do. Mr. Tucket couldn't ride enough to cover the territory that needs to be covered, but he will definitely get around. I'm going to do many more of these books.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
After a year with Mr. Grimes, Francis has learned to live by the harsh code of the wilderness. He can cause a stampede, survive his own mistakes and face up to desperadoes. But when he rescues a little girl and her younger brother, Francis takes on more than he bargained for.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 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 fourteen and traveling with a carnival, Gary 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 powerful stories.
The Tucket Adventures offer opportunities for making connections with the subjects areas of geography, history, language arts, the arts, literature, and science. The books also offer opportunities for exploration of themes or topics such as Westward Movement, Caring for the Environment, Survival, and Heroes. You can successfully use any one, two or all three books in your classroom. Sample the suggested classroom connections that follow and offer your students appropriate choices to deepen their understanding and enjoyment of the books.
Have students examine the United States in 1848. Give students a blank map and have them color in only those states and territories that were part of the Union--be sure to include the year and circumstances surrounding each state's admission. (You can break the class into small groups and each group can work on a particular state.) Afterwards, add states that were admitted after 1848 so that students can visually see the Western expansion of the country.
Assign students short research projects on the following topics: Western Explorers, the Plains Indians, Wagon Trains, the Oregon Trail, mountain men, California, and the Pony Express. When the students have gathered the information, guide them in creating a mural that features significant episodes in the opening of the West, arranging the events in the form of a time line.
Francis meets up with another wagon train in Call Me Francis Tucket. Life on a wagon train was like living in a small, moving town. In what ways was this true? Discuss the living conditions in a wagon train and how settlers managed to carry enough food and water to sustain them on their journey. Also examine the other travel options available in 1848.
In Call Me Francis Tucket, when Courtweiler and Dubs take his things, Francis thinks,
"A real knock'em, sock'em ripsnorter guaranteed to keep any boy and any girl. . . enthralled from first page through last. . . . Superb characterizations, splendidly evoked setting and thrill-a-minute plot make this book a joy to gallop through." -- Starred, Publishers Weekly
"[Francis Tucket is] a cool-headed survivor in the mold of Hatchet's protagonist. . . a heart-stopping good read." -- Starred, Publishers Weekly
"Thank You!! Thank You!! Thank You!! It is so wonderful to turn kids on to reading with incredible novels like yours. The children truly loved your books and learned a lot about survival and life." -- J.W., Sanford School
"Many students have enjoyed your novels and learned valuable lessons from them. I enjoy teaching them for the same reason." -- B.B., Franklin Elementary School
"I really enjoyed reading your book, Mr. Tucket. The whole book had an outstanding way of making a picture in my mind. Your characters seemed to come to life. Though I've read a lot of books, Mr. Tucket is one of the best so far."--Angelica, Student