Gary Paulsen Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen

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Gary Jeffery Paulsen
BornGary James Paulsen
(1939-05-17) May 17, 1939 (age 79)
Minneapolis , Minnesota , U.S.
Genre Young adult fiction , adventure novels , nonfiction
SubjectAdventure memoirs, sports
Notable works
  • Hatchet
  • The River
  • Dogsong
  • Woodsong
  • Winterdance
  • The Winter Room
  • Harris and Me
Notable awards Margaret Edwards Award
SpouseRuth Wright Paulsen
RelativesMichael Paulsen


Gary James Paulsen (born May 17, 1939) [1] is an American writer of young adult literature , best known for coming of age stories about the wilderness . He is the author of more than 200 books and has written more than 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays, all primarily for teenagers . He won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 1997 for his lifetime contribution in writing for teens. [2]

Biography[ edit ]

Gary Paulsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where his extended family resided, to Oscar and Eunice H. (née Moen), [1] Paulsen has two siblings: a full sister, Paulette, and a half-brother Bill, who was born to his father from a previous marriage. His father was a career army officer, on General George Patton’s staff, who spent most of World War II overseas. Gary did not meet his father until he was seven years old. He spent time throughout his childhood with his grandmother, aunts and various other relatives. [3] When he was seven he and his mother joined his father in the Philippines, where he lived for two years. He then returned to Minnesota. At the age of 14, Gary ran away and went to a sugar beet farm. [4]

Paulsen has written some fragmented autobiographical works, such as Eastern Sun, Winter Moon: An Autobiographical Odyssey. The book, which is written in first person, begins when Paulsen was seven, living in Chicago with his mother. Paulsen described several traumatic occurrences that transpired during the three years that are chronicled by the book. For example, one day while his mother was napping, Gary sneaked outside to play. There a vagrant snatched him and apparently attempted to molest him, but his mother suddenly appeared on the scene and beat the man to death. Paulsen reported his mother’s many adulterous affairs in Eastern Sun, suggesting that the man he called “father” was not really his biological father. He also discussed his mother’s alcoholism. He told how she would bring him to a bar and had him sing for his supper, even though she had an income from her work in an ammunition factory, and he felt there was no need for this. When World War II ended, Gary’s father sent for him and his mother to come join him in the Philippines , where he was stationed. A great part of the book is dedicated to the voyage by naval vessel to the Philippines. During the trip, Gary witnessed a plane crash. He, his mother, and the people who were also being transported on this ship, looked on as many of the airplane’s passengers were killed or maimed by the sharks who would follow the ship consuming waste. His mother, the only woman aboard, helped the corpsman care for the surviving victims. After arriving in Hawaii , according to Paulsen, his mother began an affair with the ship’s corpsman. [3]

Gary and his mother arrived in Manila, where he met his father for the first time. He quickly realized that he would not have a close relationship with the man whom he felt he did not resemble nor relate to, who never referred to him as anything except “the boy” and who, like Gary’s mother, was an alcoholic. Gary’s family had two servants while they lived on the army base in Manila, a man named Rom, and a woman named Maria. Gary shared a room with Maria and before long, the woman, who had endured multiple rapes at the hands of the formally occupying Japanese, began to molest Gary. He claimed in the book that this happened quite often, nearly every night, until he left Manila. While living in Manila, Gary’s parents continued to drink heavily. His mother also continued to have affairs.

The accounts in Eastern Sun ended when Gary and his mother left Manila. Bits and pieces of Gary’s adolescence can be pieced together in Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books . In that book, Paulsen discussed the ways in which he survived between the ages of twelve and fourteen back in Minnesota. He barely mentioned his parents except to say that they were too busy being drunk to stock the refrigerator. He worked several jobs during this time, including setting pins at the bowling alley, delivering newspapers and working as a farm hand. He bought his own school supplies and a rifle, which he used to hunt for sustenance. Eventually, he gave up the rifle and manufactured his own bow and arrows which he used to hunt deer. [5]

Much of what is known about Gary Paulsen’s life is revealed in prologues and epilogues of his own books. In Gary Paulsen’s book The Quilt, one of a series of three books based on summers spent with his grandmother, Paulsen told about what a tremendous influence his grandmother had on him. It is difficult to say how factual an autobiography The Quilt is intended to be, as Paulsen is supposed to have been six years old in this story and yet he made references to events found in Eastern Sun, which is supposed to have been set later. He also refers to himself, in this book, in third person and only as “the boy”. [6]

Paulsen has been married twice and has three adult children, Lance, Lynn and James Paulsen. Early in his adult life he had issues with alcoholism. He also lived in poverty through most of his early adult life. He had several jobs including that of magazine editor. He also did a tour in the Army. He struggled as a writer for decades. One of his earliest published books was titled Some Birds Don’t Fly, a comic rendition of his time working at the government missile range, White Sands, New Mexico. In 1966, a book was published under the title The Special War. Paulsen worked at construction while writing to support himself. It was not until the publication of his first award-winning book, Dogsong , in 1985 that Paulsen began to experience success.

Even though Paulsen is now a successful author, he says he chooses to live in relative poverty. He reportedly lives with his wife, Ruth, who illustrates children’s literature, in La Luz, New Mexico . (ALA reported Tularosa, New Mexico in 1997.) [2] He also spends some time living on a house boat on the Pacific Ocean.

In 1983, Paulsen entered the 1,150-mile (1,850 km) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race , and placed 41st [7] out of 54 finishers, with an official time of 17 days, 12 hours, 38 minutes, and 38 seconds. In 1990, suffering from heart disease, Paulsen made the decision to give up dog sledding, which he described as the most difficult decision he has ever made. Paulsen would spend more than a decade sailing the Pacific before getting back into dog sledding in 2003. According to his keynote speech on October 13, 2007, at the Sinclair Lewis writing conference in Sauk Centre, Minnesota , he still intended to compete in the Iditarod. He is listed in the “Withdrawn/Scratched” section of the 1985 and 2006 Iditarod . Paulsen is an outdoorsman (a hunter and trapper ), who maintains a 40-acre (160,000 m2) spread north of Willow, Alaska , where he breeds and trains sled dogs for the Iditarod.

Much of Paulsen’s work features the outdoors and highlights the importance of nature. He often uses “coming of age” themes in his novels, where a character masters the art of survival in isolation as a rite of passage to manhood and maturity. He is critical of technology and has been called a Luddite . [8]

The Hatchet series, or Brian’s Saga, five novels published from 1987 to 2003, comprises some of Paulsen’s best known work. Dogsong (1985), The Winter Room (1989), and Harris and Me (1993) are three others of his many popular novels. Woodsong (1990) and Winterdance (1994) are among the most popular books about the Iditarod.

The ALA Margaret Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”. Paulsen won the annual award in 1997, when the panel cited six books published from 1983 to 1990: Dancing Carl, Hatchet (first in the series), The Crossing, The Winter Room , Canyons , and Woodsong. The citation noted that “[t]he theme of survival is woven throughout, whether it is living through a plane crash or living in an abusive, alcoholic household” and emphasized Hatchet in particular for “encompassing a survival theme in all it’s aspects, physical as well as psychological” [2]

Three of Paulsen’s books were runners-up for the Newbery Medal , the premier ALA annual book award for children’s literature: Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room. [9] (The American Library Association distinguishes children’s and young-adult literature in its awards for lifetime contribution from 1988; in its annual book awards only since inauguration of the Printz Award in 2000.)

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ a b “Gary James Paulsen” . Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota Birth Index, 1935-2002. Retrieved 25 April 2011. Name: Gary James Paulsen Birth Date: 17 May 1939 Birth County: Hennepin Father: Oscar Paulsen Mother: Eunice H Moen File Number: 1939-MN-038786

    (subscription required)

  2. ^ a b c
    “1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner” . Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA).
      “Edwards Award” . YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  3. ^ a b Paulsen, Gary (1993). Eastern Sun, Winter Moon. New York: Harcourt Brace. p. 244. ISBN   0-15-600203-5 .
  4. ^ “Gary Paulsen” . Random House Children’s Books. Random House. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  5. ^ Paulsen, Gary (2001). Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet And The Brian Books. New York: Random house. ISBN   978-0-385-32650-6 .
  6. ^ Paulsen, Gary (2004). The Quilt. New York: Random House. ISBN   0-440-22936-7 .
  7. ^
  8. ^ Anne Goodwin Sides (August 26, 2010). “On the Road and Between the Pages, an Author Is Restless for Adventure” . The New York Times.
  9. ^
    “Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present” . ALSC. ALA.
      “The John Newbery Medal” . ALSC. ALA.
    Retrieved 2013-10-13.

External links[ edit ]

  • Works by or about Gary Paulsen in libraries ( WorldCat catalog)
  • Gary Paulsen at publisher Random House
  • Gary Paulsen on IMDb
  • Gary Paulsen at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • Gary Paulsen at Library of Congress Authorities — with 203 catalog records
  • v
  • t
  • e
Works by Gary Paulsen
Brian’s saga
  • Hatchet
  • The River
  • Brian’s Winter
  • Brian’s Return
  • Brian’s Hunt
Murphy series
  • Murphy
  • Murphy’s Gold
  • Murphy’s Herd
  • Murphy’s War
  • Murphy’s Stand
  • Murphy’s Ambush
  • Murphy’s Trail
Culpepper Adventures
  • The Case of the Dirty Bird
  • Dunc’s Doll
  • Culpepper’s Cannon
  • Dunc Gets Tweaked
  • Dunc’s Halloween
  • Dunc Breaks the Record
The Tucket Adventures
  • Mr. Tucket
  • Call Me Francis Tucket
  • Tucket’s Ride
  • Tucket’s Gold
  • Tucket’s Home
World of Adventure
  • The Legend of Red Horse Cavern
  • Rodomonte’s Revenge
  • Escape from Fire Mountain
  • The Rock Jockeys
  • Hook ‘Em Snotty!
  • Danger on Midnight River
  • The Gorgon Slayer
  • Captive!
  • Project – A Perfect World
  • The Treasure of El Patron
  • Skydive!
  • The Seventh Crystal
  • The Creature of Black Water Lake
  • Time Benders
  • Grizzly
  • Thunder Valley
  • Curse of the Ruins
  • Flight of the Hawk
Other novels
  • Dogsong
  • The Winter Room
  • Canyons
  • The Cookcamp
  • Harris and Me
  • Nightjohn
  • The Car
  • The Tent
  • Sarny
  • The Transall Saga
  • Alida’s Song
  • Soldier’s Heart
  • The White Fox Chronicles
  • The Glass Cafe
  • Woods Runner
  • Woodsong
  • Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod
  • My Life in Dog Years
  • Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books
  • How Angel Peterson Got His Name
  • A Cry in the Wild
  • Nightjohn
  • Snow Dogs
Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
  • WorldCat Identities
  • BNF : cb11918825j (data)
  • GND : 119339854
  • IMDb : nm0667305
  • ISNI : 0000 0000 8398 3698
  • LCCN : n81042339
  • NDL : 00472819
  • NKC : xx0014716
  • NLA : 35412795
  • SNAC : w64j2ctn
  • SUDOC : 027060926
  • VIAF : 85394550

Retrieved from ” ”
Categories :

  • 1939 births
  • American dog mushers
  • 20th-century American novelists
  • 21st-century American novelists
  • American male novelists
  • American writers of young adult literature
  • Margaret A. Edwards Award winners
  • Newbery Honor winners
  • Writers from Minneapolis
  • People from Otero County, New Mexico
  • Living people
  • 20th-century American male writers
  • 21st-century American male writers
  • Novelists from Minnesota
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      Gary Paulsen

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      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

      Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat

      by Gary Paulsen
      Animals , Childrens 8-12 , Fiction , Friendship , Humor

      It seemed like a normal school day, until a horrible storm forced the very cautious school administration to make everyone hole up in a safe place. Six students find themselves stuck in a tiny, questionably smelly space — a school bathroom — with a stuffed cat for entertainment. Hijinks ensue and the unexpected happens. They enter as strangers…and leave as friends. Get to know the story even better with a special script that accompanies the novel, so any six kids can get together with their friends and perform the story anywhere they’d like.

      Fishbone’s Song

      by Gary Paulsen
      Animals , Childrens , Childrens 10+ , Family Life , Fiction , Youth Fiction

      An orphan reflects on the lessons he was taught by the wise old man who raised him in this lyrical novel that reads like poetry from three-time Newbery Honor–winning author Gary Paulsen. Deep in the woods, in a rustic cabin, lives an old man and the boy he’s raised as his own. This sage old man has taught the boy the power of nature and how to live in it and more importantly, to respect it. In FISHBONE’S SONG, this boy reminisces about the magic of the man who raised him and the tales that he used to tell — all true, but different each time.

      This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs

      by Gary Paulsen

      Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this would have been possible without his truest companion: his animals. Sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him across a desert. His understanding and admiration of animals is well known, and in THIS SIDE OF WILD, which has taken a lifetime to write, he proves the ways in which they have taught him to be a better person.

      Field Trip

      by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen
      Young Adult 10+ , Youth Fiction

      Ben has been invited to try out for a special hockey academy. But Dad wants Ben to catch up to the school field trip instead. So Ben, Dad, and their dogs Atticus and Conor, jump into their truck. Ben concocts a secret plan to make the tryout, but Atticus and Conor are on to him. Ben and Dad’s road trip turns into a wacky adventure full of new friends and surprises.

      Family Ties

      by Gary Paulsen

      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.

      Road Trip

      by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen
      Childrens , 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.

      Crush: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love

      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?

      Crush: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Love

      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.

      Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas

      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.

      Masters of Disaster

      by Gary Paulsen

      Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed

      by Gary Paulsen

      Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Deception

      by Gary Paulsen

      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.


      by Gary Paulsen

      Woods Runner

      by Gary Paulsen
      Historical Fiction

      Hatchet: 30th Anniversary Edition

      by Gary Paulsen
      Adventure , Coming of Age , Fiction , Young Adult 12+

      Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills. When Brian is finally rescued after 54 days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.

      The Time Hackers

      by Gary Paulsen

      Molly Mcginty Has a Really Good Day

      by Gary Paulsen

      The Quilt

      by Gary Paulsen

      The Glass Cafe

      by Gary Paulsen

      Alida’s Song

      by Gary Paulsen

      The Best Fields

      by Gary Paulsen

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      December 3, 2018

      Musher Details

      1985 Iditarod » Mushers » Gary Paulsen
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      Gary Paulsen

      Hometown: Willow, Alaska

      There are no records for this musher during the 1985 race.

      View full career in the archives

      1985 Iditarod


      Gary Paulsen, 69, was born in Minnesota and grew up living all over the world because his father was in the army. He moved to Alaska five years ago to train for and compete in the Iditarod and says he’ll be here the rest of his life. He began mushing in 1979 and first ran the Iditarod in 1983 and again in 1985. For nine years, he has sailed the Pacific Ocean, Fiji, South Pacific, Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. A writer for 43 plus years, he has written many award-winning children’s books and books for adults. "I have come back to the Iditarod because I never should have left dogs-all the time sailing the Pacific, not a day went by that I didn’t miss dogs and the dance that running them is for me. I will not leave them again." He says he is making a nostalgic run, non-competitive, simply running  to finish. Gary and his wife, Ruth, have one adult son, Jim.

      Iditarod ’19 Race starts in:


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      © Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc. – a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

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