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The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love

Written by Gary PaulsenAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Gary Paulsen


List Price: $6.99


On Sale: May 08, 2012
Pages: 144 | ISBN: 978-0-307-97453-2
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books
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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?



The Scientific Mind Knows That Science Is the Search for Truth in the Natural World

Although I’d realized six or eight weeks ago that I was crazy about Tina Zabinski and I wanted to go on a date with her the same way I want to keep converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, I’d been playing it cool, taking it slow. I was waiting for the exact right moment to present itself before making my move.

That’s better than saying that I couldn’t remember how to speak when she came near and I tended to fall down when she noticed me.

I’d planned to ask her out recently; I had the perfect first date in mind, one that would show her how lucky she was to be with a guy like me. The school dance. But I didn’t actually ask her. Thought about it, sure; planned to do it, absolutely; came right out and asked, not a chance.

I’d thought I had all the time in the world to work on connecting the mind-­mouth function when I was near her. Until I walked into the school cafeteria on Monday and saw some male-­model wannabe sitting next to Tina at a lunch table. He was leaning in as he talked to her—­close enough to smell her hair—­and she laughed at something he said. I knew in an instant that I was in deep trouble. And that I’d run out of time.

I went straight to my best buddy, JonPaul, who was sprinkling extra wheat germ on his organic peanut butter and raw honey sandwich. JonPaul is a health nut.

“Who’s that?” I tilted my head toward Tina’s table.

“The new kid.”

“What new kid?”

“Cash Devine.”

“That’s his actual name?”


“You’re kidding.”


“That’s the fakest thing I ever heard.”

JonPaul shrugged and swallowed a handful of vitamins with his soy milk.

“How do you know him?” I asked.

“He’s in my math class.”

“What’s he doing at Tina’s table?”

“She was assigned to show him around school, help get him familiar with everything.”

“Since when did a welcome guide become standard operating procedure around here?”

“I dunno. Are those organic grapes in your lunch? And if they are, can I have them? I haven’t been getting enough fiber lately and the skins would really help me out.”

“Yeah.” I shoved what I knew to be run-­of-­the-­mill produce reeking of pesticides toward him as fast as I could, trying to avoid a conversation about what happens to JonPaul’s digestive tract when he’s fiber-­deprived. Been there, done that, have the horrible mental images.

He lined up the grapes next to his baby car- rots, Greek yogurt, hardboiled eggs and stone-­ground gluten-­free crackers. I ate a handful of chocolate-­covered potato chips while I studied Tina and the Threat.

Cash caught me looking at him when Tina turned to talk to the girl on her other side, and he headed toward me, a big cheesy grin on his face.

“Cash. Cash Devine. Good to know you.”

He sounded like the politicians at the Labor Day parade who hand out mini-­flags and ask for your support on Election Day.

“Hey,” I grunted back. “Name’s Kevin.”

“JonPaul,” he said, slapping my best friend on the back, “math is gonna be rough, buddy; hope I can count on you for some help.”


“Do you know if my guide, Tina, has a boyfriend? She’s really hot.”

I didn’t hear JonPaul’s reply; I saw his lips moving, but the pressure in my ears from my brain freak-­out deafened me.


No way.

No flipping way.

That plastic-­looking, fake-­named, phony-­ friendly doofus wasn’t going to waltz into my school and take my girlfriend away from me. Especially when I hadn’t had the chance to make her my girlfriend yet.

I had to get away from Cash before I did something embarrassing, like slug him or watch my head explode all over JonPaul’s surgeon general–­approved lunch. I mumbled some excuse about getting a homework assignment and bailed.

I saw my friends Katie and Connie and made a beeline for their table. Okay, I’m stretching things a bit calling them friends. I think Connie likes me just fine, but I’m not sure she trusts me. I am positive Katie neither likes nor trusts me. We have a history. It’s a long story and I look bad at the end. But that didn’t stop me.

“Hey, mind if I sit with you two?” I said with what I was sure was the furthest thing from the phony smile Cash had given me. I’d practiced in the mirror. Smiles that are both big and genuine take effort, and I’d wanted to make sure that when I finally got around to talking to Tina, I had the right look on my face. Friendly, but not frantic. Confident, but not smug. It takes work to hit that perfect balance.

“Sure.” Connie moved her books so I could sit across from them. Katie said nothing, but at least she didn’t dump her enchilada on my lap. I took that as progress.

“I need a woman’s point of view,” I told them.

Connie blushed. Katie glared at me.

“Have you met the new guy?” I rolled my eyes in Cash’s direction. Connie blushed deeper and Katie nodded. “What do you think of him, guy-­wise? I mean, is he the kind of guy who rocks your world?”

“Why?” Katie asked, suspicion oozing from every pore of her body.

“I’m interested in learning what girls find attractive. Especially girls like you.” Flattery is a good technique for getting information from someone.

“Oh.” Katie looked confused. She hasn’t been uncertain about anything since before potty training, so I felt a tiny thrill at bamboozling her.

Connie looked thoughtful. “He’s very good-­ looking.”

“Girls like that?”

“Sure, but it’s not everything.”

“What else do you look for?”

“Personality.” Katie was staring at me with an odd expression that I couldn’t understand, but I liked her answer; I am Mr. Personality.

“Cool. What—­” The bell rang before I could ask any more questions, and everyone started hurrying out of the cafeteria. I watched Tina and Cash walk down the hall together as I headed toward my next class.

Clearly, I’d been panicking in the clutch just because I didn’t have enough information about romance. Once I collected enough data, I’d make Tina forget all about that guy and his straight teeth and perfect hair and big shoulders.

I just had to figure out how to figure out girls.

Guys have been getting girls to fall in love with them for millions of years. My only problem was that I’d never applied myself before. But that was about to change. Big-­time.
Gary Paulsen

About Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen - Crush

Photo © Tim Keating

“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.


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 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

“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

“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

“A riveting science fiction adventure. . . . Captivating.”—Starred, Booklist

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