Author Spotlight: Gary Paulsen
Usually I highlight the five star reads from the previous month as a Reader Roundup.
No five star reads in September.
Yes, this is disappointing to report. I read fifteen books and several were okay, some were meh, and a couple came close being a really good read. Keeping to my standards though, and no five stars.
This post will instead feature a really good author: Gary Paulsen. Yeah, the guy who wrote Hatchet. Yes, that story of a boy whose private airplane pilot dies en route to see his father and they end up crash landing in the Canadian wilderness. He survives moose, mosquitoes, and choke berries with only a hatchet. It’s the book my sophomore boys usually picked to read for their book report even though I know they have read it (again and again). It is a good book, but Gary Paulsen wrote more than Hatchet. In fact, he wrote around 200 books, five being related to Brian of Hatchet.
A phenomenal author who wrote mostly about survival, be it in the wilderness or just making through a dysfunctional life, Paulsen also wrote humorous stories and historical stories. He wrote with insight and knowledge. He was the type of writer who lived his stories which is one reason they are so engaging. He knew what it was like to live in the wilderness. He hunted, fished, sailed—he even ran the Iditarod.
Looking at a photo of him it is difficult to get past his grizzled hermit-in-a-cabin appearance. Yet, he was a wordsmith and loved to read books along with respecting and rejoicing in the wilderness.
Gary Paulsen passed from heart failure at 82 in 2021 and leaves a legacy of books that generations will discover and appreciate. His writing and his storytelling, especially his Brian stories are worthy reads at any age.
My husband, well past his middle school years, is absolutely enthralled with Paulsen’s books. His utterances of “whoa” and “wow” and guffaws of delight make me set aside my “grownup” books and reread Paulsen. I agree with all his observations, and we have great share sessions.
A really good read from a really good author is a treasure.
Hatchet was one of my regular read-a-louds with my upper-grade students.
The other Brian books are worthwhile reads, especially Brian’s Hunt. I’m enjoying finding more of Paulsen’s books to read and hand over to my husband.