Books by Gary Paulsen

FISHBONE'S SONG by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 27, 2016

"A beautifully written elegy to coming of age in bygone days that, unfortunately, oversimplifies complex issues. (Historical fiction. 12-15)"
A white boy narrates his upbringing by a solitary old white man in a tiny cabin in the woods. Read full book review >
Released: May 10, 2016

"A slow, slight story enlivened by likable characters and a nice dose of humor. Twice. (Fiction/drama. 9-13)"
Six 14-year-old boys, all classmates, must sit tight in their school bathroom while they wait out a storm warning, a forced interaction that causes the barriers between them to fall. Read full book review >
FIELD TRIP by Gary Paulsen
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Readers who enjoyed the first will want to share this trip as well, but fresh ideas are needed if there's to be a third journey. (Fiction. 10-14)"
A boy, a dad, two dogs, and a much-needed field trip. Read full book review >
FAMILY TIES by Gary Paulsen
Released: July 22, 2014

"Another funny episode in a well-meaning (sort of, anyway) kid's life. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Kevin, 14 and no stranger to hyperbole, is back for a fifth humor-infused outing as he tries valiantly to deal with his often bizarre extended family (Vote, 2013, etc.). Read full book review >
VOTE by Gary Paulsen
Released: May 13, 2013

"Still, especially for kids who have watched recent elections, Kevin's brand of campaigning is readily recognizable. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Kevin knows the buzzwords that will surely get him elected student-body president; it's unfortunate that he's running for the wrong reason. Read full book review >
ROAD TRIP by Gary Paulsen
Released: Jan. 8, 2013

"Given its notable brevity and Ben's age-appropriate, oft-times snarky, attitude, this should be an easy sell for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 10-14)"
In a first-time collaboration between father and son, the Paulsens supply alternating chapters of this attractively depicted road trip with a strongly upbeat yet never didactic message. Read full book review >
CRUSH by Gary Paulsen
Released: May 8, 2012

"Another fast-paced romp with a well-intentioned, if severely misguided eighth grader. (Fiction. 9-12)"
After previous misadventures in Liar, Liar and Flat Broke (both 2011), Kevin is back again, this time applying his quirky, inquiring mind to the world of love. Read full book review >
CANYONS by Gary Paulsen
Released: Aug. 9, 2011

An Apache boy on the verge of manhood is brutally executed by Army patrols; over 100 years later a contemporary 15-year-old finds his shattered skull and—responding to a compelling inner voice emanating from the skull—begins a journey to vindicate and give rest to its troubled spirit, somehow knowing that he must carry out this task in order to regain his own peace. Read full book review >
FLAT BROKE by Gary Paulsen
Released: July 12, 2011

"A jocular, fast-paced voyage into the sometimes simple but never quiet mind of an ambitious eighth grader. (Fiction. 9-12)"
A 14-year-old greedily launches himself headlong into the entrepreneurial world, with amusing consequences. Read full book review >
LIAR, LIAR by Gary Paulsen
Released: March 8, 2011

"This brief, humorous effort will appeal to reluctant middle-school readers, who will recognize the truth behind witty Kevin's inventive deceptions. (Fiction. 9-12)"
Eighth grader Kevin has a talent most adults can't fully appreciate: He's a gifted liar. Read full book review >
WOODS RUNNER by Gary Paulsen
Released: Jan. 12, 2010

"A good match for the author's Soldier's Heart (1998). (Historical fiction. 11 & up)"
Thirteen-year-old Samuel is a courier du bois, or woods runner, a wilderness expert who provides meat for his entire settlement in the British colony of Pennsylvania. Read full book review >
MUDSHARK by Gary Paulsen
Released: May 12, 2009

"Add in the mystery of the missing erasers, a bored cat and a course of aversion therapy, and it equals fun. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Paulsen's peppy, lightweight new classroom comedy about a super-sharp kid is meant to amuse, and it does. Read full book review >
LAWN BOY by Gary Paulsen
Released: June 12, 2007

"Capital! (Fiction. 9-12)"
After his grandmother gives him an old riding lawnmower for his summer birthday, this comedy's 12-year-old narrator putt-putts into a series of increasingly complex and economically advantageous adventures. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 8, 2006

"Completely captivating—begs to be made into a movie. (Historical fiction/nonfiction. 10-14)"
Paulsen takes the few facts known about this remarkable man and shapes them into a compelling, even elegant narrative—brief sections of historical fact between longer, fictionalized tales of the boy Bass Reeves was and the man he became. Read full book review >
Released: June 13, 2006

"At times laugh-out-loud funny, here is an only slightly exaggerated manual for every boy encountering his first life change. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Twelve-year-old Duane Homer Leech feels he's in the clutches of something insidious, a cruel joke that's ruining his life. Read full book review >
THE TIME HACKERS by Gary Paulsen
Released: Jan. 11, 2005

"Light and entertaining, this should appeal to reluctant readers as well as confirmed Paulsen fans. (Fiction. 9-12)"
In an unidentified future time when laptops can be rolled up and gold is worth ten times what it is today, seventh-grader Dorso and best friend Frank find themselves in the middle of a time-travel game that escalates from smelly dead things appearing in Dorso's locker to involuntary transportation to dangerous moments in history. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 28, 2004

"Early readers will no doubt devour this somewhat slapstick, atypically girl-centric Paulsen offering. (Fiction. 8-11)"
There's only one problem with organizing one's entire life in a multi-pocketed three-ring binder: it might get lost. Read full book review >
THE QUILT by Gary Paulsen
Released: May 11, 2004

"A story to savor and share and Paulsen at his best. (Fiction. 8-12)"
In 1944, with his father at war and his mother working the night shift at the munitions factory, the narrator—"the boy"—goes to live with his grandmother Alida in northern Minnesota. Read full book review >
BRIAN’S HUNT by Gary Paulsen
Released: Dec. 23, 2003

"Based on real incidents, this well-written sequel to Hatchet and its successors will be gobbled up by the author's legions of fans. (Fiction. 10+)"
Brian Robeson has returned to the Canadian wilderness, where his plane crashed two years before. Read full book review >
SHELF LIFE by Gary Paulsen
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

"Paulsen's proceeds, plus a percentage from the publisher, will go to ProLiteracy Worldwide; the stodgy intro by that organization's president is the only clinker here. (Short stories. 11-15)"
The ten original stories—prefaced by Paulsen's cogent memoir—in this pro-bono gathering offer universal themes in a variety of settings. Read full book review >
Released: June 10, 2003

"Introduce reluctant readers, Paulsen fans, or anyone who enjoys an occasional belly laugh to this prototypical preteen and his most memorable mom. (Fiction. 9-11)"
Long, breathless sentences like this one create a distinct voice for the 12-year-old narrator of this light comedy that features a supermom who's raising a child and working her way toward graduate school as an exotic dancer at the Kitty Kat Club. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 14, 2003

"Related with the author's customary matter-of-fact tone and keen comic timing, these episodes will not only keep young readers, of both sexes, in stitches, they're made to order for reading aloud. (Biography. 10-12)"
Dedicated to all 13-year-old boys ("The miracle is that we live through it"), Paulsen's latest collection of possibly autobiographical anecdotes, his most hilarious yet, celebrates that innate impulse to try really stupid stunts, just to see what happens. Read full book review >
CAUGHT BY THE SEA by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

"Terrifying and hilarious, sometimes simultaneously, these adventures effortlessly carry important lessons about the craft of sailing as well as the craft of living. (Autobiography. 10-12)"
Spinning more vivid yarns from his anything-but-sedentary life, Paulsen (Guts, 2001, etc.) will enthrall even resolute landlubbers with this slim volume of nautical reminiscences. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"It's a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)"
Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 12, 2000

"The sexual content may make the book inappropriate for less mature readers, but it's essentially an optimistic, coming-of-age story and a new take on the life of this popular author. (Fiction. 12-15)"
Using his lyrical voice, Paulsen (Alida's Song, 1999, etc.) presents a true-to-life, thinly veiled biographical portrait of a boy's 16th year. Read full book review >
TUCKET'S GOLD by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

"This invigorating story is just right for readers who like their action at a gallop. (Fiction. 9-12)"
The fourth installment of Paulsen's Tucket Adventures (Tucket's Ride, 1997, etc.) is instantly involving, with plotting that rockets along. Read full book review >
CANOE DAYS by Gary Paulsen
Released: March 9, 1999

"This observant and understated look into nature is both soothing and surprising. (Picture book. 4-7)"
The Paulsens' picture book offers a tranquil, meditative idyll that glides as easily as a canoe on still water. Read full book review >
BRIAN'S RETURN by Gary Paulsen
Released: Jan. 1, 1999

"Afterword. (Fiction. 11-13)"
Paulsen brings the story he began in Hatchet (1987) and continued in the alternate sequels The River (1991) and Brian's Winter (1996) around to a sometimes-mystical close. Read full book review >
SOLDIER'S HEART by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

"An author's note tells of Charley's true fate—dead at 23 from the psychological and physical ravages of war. (Fiction. 10-14)"
The nightmare of the Civil War comes to the page in this novel from Paulsen (The Transall Saga, p. 741, etc.), based on the real-life experiences of a young enlistee. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1998

"Readers last glimpse Mark as an adult, trying to find a vaccine for the vires behind the epidemic. (Fiction. 10- 14)"
Paulsen (My Life in Dog Years, 1998, etc.), treading water, offers a competent fantasy-adventure about a boy who is time-warped into a primitive world, undergoes the hero's journey, and proves he can get the girl and still go home again. Read full book review >
MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS by Gary Paulsen
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

"Thoughtful, ironic, often hilarious, these vivid character portraits not only make winning stories, but convey a deep respect for all dogs: 'They are wonderful and, I think, mandatory for decent human life.' (Memoir. 10-13)"
Paulsen paid loving tribute to the sled dogs in his life in Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers (1996) so gives eight more canine companions equal time: Snowball, who saved his life when he was seven, to Caesar, an enthusiastic Great Dane who "overwhelmed the furniture" but was gentle with children, to Fred, who did battle with an electric fence, to Quincy, who did battle with a bear that attacked the author's wife. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 1997

"These meditations don't quite add up to a full-tilt memoir, but they make a nice entertainment all the same."
Lyrical and pleasing reflections on machinery, midlife crisis, and sundry other matters. Read full book review >
SARNY by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"The next 50 years pass in a few paragraphs, the ending seems abrupt, and, ultimately, the plot takes too many convenient turns; still, Sarny's indomitability will win over skeptics, and the way her ability to read frees more than her body will not be lost on thoughtful readers. (Fiction. 11-13)"
The slave child who learned to read in Nightjohn (1993) looks back from the age of 94 on her life during and after the Civil War. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1997

"It's all flat-out goofy and great fun, as well as an inspiring story of shared experiences that, weird as they are, form the basis of a strong and affectionate friendship. (Fiction. 10+)"
A rollicking tale that's dressed up like a novel but reads more like a memoir, from the new comedian on the block, Paulsen (Worksong, p. 304, etc.). Read full book review >
WORKSONG by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1997

The Paulsens (Woodsong, 1990, etc.) create a song—really a lyric verse—in praise of ordinary workers, a refreshing slant for a culture mired in the worship of celebrity. Read full book review >
TUCKET'S RIDE by Gary Paulsen
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

"Still, Paulsen proves himself nothing if not reliable—the pacing is flawless, the prose seemingly effortless, and the pages just fly by. (Fiction. 10+)"
Another entry in the ongoing saga of young Francis Tucket (Call Me Francis Tucket, 1995, etc.) and his adventures after being separated from his parents' wagon train. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

"Such a bond, such a love I had with Cookie'—and such a book he wrote to share that love with others. (Nonfiction. 10+)"
Readers who aren't misled by the New Age subtitle—"Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs"—will find themselves along on a wonderful ride. Read full book review >
BRIAN'S WINTER by Gary Paulsen
Released: Feb. 1, 1996

"Aside from a brief foreword, Paulsen picks Hatchet's story up in midstream; read together, the two books make his finest tale of survival yet. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Suppose Brian Robeson hadn't been rescued from the wilderness before hard winter set in? Read full book review >
THE RIFLE by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

"Unforgettable. (Fiction. 12+)"
Once again Paulsen (The Tent, p. 474) proves that less is more in a short but extremely powerful cautionary tale. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1995

"But if Call Me Francis Tucket is unsatisfying on its own, like good serial fiction, it will make readers eager to find out what happens next, and hope a third book is in the offing. (Fiction. 10+)"
Francis, 14, is alone on the frontier. Read full book review >
THE TENT by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1995

"As with all stories of success, the most enjoyable thing about this book is how quickly it reads. (Fiction. 12+)"
A formulaic rags-to-riches tale about learning a skill and becoming a success, with an odd twist: The skill in question is preaching at religious revivals. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

"Like much of the hunting it describes, this book has one hit among numerous misses. (Nonfiction. 12+)"
Like the adolescent boys that are their target audience, these reminiscences of boyhood hunting and fishing are awkward and intense. Read full book review >
THE CAR by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1994

"There's a strong conscience propelling this novel, but it's buried so deep that YA's caught up in the action may miss it. (Fiction. 12-16)"
Paulsen's latest comes close to a classic teenage male fantasy of fleeing from home to seek independence and self. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

"Simplistic, perhaps, but still a riveting and accessible portrayal that's sure to lead to useful discussion. (Fiction. 12+)"
In a bilingual flip-flop edition, a novella contrasting two 14-year-olds who have one fleeting but decisive encounter in a Texas mall where both have come for tools of their trade. Read full book review >
DOGTEAM by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

"An inspired collaboration vividly re-creating an exhilarating experience. (Picture book. 4+)"
The author and his wife celebrate their longtime avocation of training sled dogs (Gary Paulsen has twice run the Iditarod). Read full book review >
HARRIS AND ME by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

"The fecund Paulsen continues to extend his range: an earthy, wonderfully comic piece. (Fiction. 11-15)"
As the boy explains, he's 11 years old that early-50's summer when a deputy sheriff dumps him with distant relatives on a north country farm—one in a long succession of makeshifts arranged in lieu of the parents who drink Four Roses neat from jelly jars and are "pretty much mean whenever they [are] conscious." Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1993

"An indelible account of a childhood lived on the edge, hallmarked by Paulsen's sinewy writing, purity of voice, and, especially, by his bedrock honesty."
The acclaimed children's author now writes a children's story for adults—a remarkably vivid, often shocking memoir of his growing up in the US and the Philippines circa WW II. Read full book review >
NIGHTJOHN by Gary Paulsen
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

"Still, the anguish is all too real in this brief, unbearably vivid book. (Fiction. YA)"
A searing picture of slavery, sometime in the 19th century at an unspecified place in the South. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

"Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Tapping his sources for The Cookcamp (1991) once again, Paulsen tells another evocative story about a small boy alone with his mother during WW II. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 23, 1992

"And the nine postimpressionist paintings by Ruth Wright Paulsen, the author's wife, nicely complement his colorful prose."
A lyrical and sensual celebration of four seasons on the American farm. Read full book review >
THE HAYMEADOW by Gary Paulsen
Released: June 1, 1992

"An entertaining yarn, but a minor literary effort. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Left in a remote mountain pasture to care for 6000 sheep, a Wyoming rancher's 14-year-old son has a typical Paulsen series of adventures. Read full book review >
THE MONUMENT by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"An intriguing, ironic tale, written vividly and with memorable humor. (Fiction. 12+)"
Paulsen quotes Katherine Anne Porter: "Art is what we find when the ruins are cleared away." Read full book review >
THE RIVER by Gary Paulsen
Released: June 1, 1991

"Perfunctory in design but vividly written, a book that will, as intended, please the readers who hoped that Paulsen, like Brian, would 'do it again.' (Fiction. 11-14)"
A sequel to the most popular of Paulsen's three Newbery Honor books (Hatchet, 1987), based on an unlikely premise— government researchers want Brian to reenact his northwoods survival so that his strategies can be observed and taught to others. Read full book review >
THE COOKCAMP by Gary Paulsen
Released: March 1, 1991

"Meanwhile, like The Winter Room (1989), a memorable evocation of a special time and place, grounded in authentic insight into deeper truths."
Sent, at five, to live with his grandmother in the wilds of northern Minnesota—where she is cook for nine rough men who are building a road from nowhere to nowhere (in case the vicissitudes of WW II should make it useful)—"the boy" experiences a brief, idyllic interlude tempered by longing for his mother, as well as by other carefully selected intrusions of reality. Read full book review >
KILL FEE by Gary Paulsen
Released: Aug. 31, 1990

"A familiar tale, with echoes of Leonard, Vachss, and Chandler; but without a wasted word in the telling, and with sharply drawn characters, it's still lean, swift, and satisfying."
A no-nonsense newsman tracks down a child sex-and-murder ring in Paulsen's second adult thriller, no more original than his first (Night Rituals, 1989) but as sleek and tightly controlled as the abundant juvenile fiction that's won him two Newbery Awards. Read full book review >
WOODSONG by Gary Paulsen
Released: Aug. 1, 1990

"This may be Paulsen's best book yet: it should delight and enthrall almost any reader."
A three-time Newbery Honor winner tells—in a memoir that is even more immediate and compelling than his novels—about his intimate relationship with Minnesota's north woods and the dog team he trained for Alaska's Iditarod. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1990

"A perceptive portrait of a kid on the verge of getting out of his self-set trap of imagining any change as a threat—even change for the better: a memorably funny yet touching farce."
A total surprise from the award-winning author of, most recently, The Winter Room (1989, Newbery Honor): a comic, accessible novel about a classic 15-year-old klutz. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1990

"For his fans, well worth reading."
One of Paulsen's earliest novels (it received very limited distribution in 1978): a romantic, unusual love story that presages his later strengths—and weaknesses. Read full book review >
THE WINTER ROOM by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1989

"Readers will be rare, but this is too fine to be ignored as a shelf-sitter."
More a prose poem than a novel, this beautifully written evocation of a Minnesota farm perhaps 40 years ago consists of portraits of each of the four seasons, along with four brief stories told by old Uncle David in the room the family calls "The Winter Room." Read full book review >
NIGHT RITUALS by Gary Paulsen
Released: July 28, 1989

"74)—but all handled with expert care and rotated at such a rapid pace that the final result is satisfyingly gripping, if familiar, entertainment."
Right on the heels of his first adult novel (Murphy's Herd, a 1989 western, not reviewed) comes this skilled but derivative cops-vs.-serial-killer story from Paulsen, a prolific and two-time Newbery-winning children's author. Read full book review >
THE ISLAND by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1988

"Fuller development of the parents would have made a stronger book; still, Wil's realization that they too are worthy of understanding makes a poignant conclusion to a novel that will appeal most to the unusual reader."
In a milder variation on the theme of self-discovery through experience sounded in Hatchet (Newbery Honor, 1988), Wil spends a few solitary days on an island near his home, tuning into nature and his own creativity. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1988

"Like the adults in Hatchet, David's parents and Owen remain shadowy figures, within the range of the possible (though few parents would willingly allow a boy to undertake such a journey), but that is beside the point: this story is about the voyage of the Frog—an epic, often lyrical journey of self-discovery, perhaps less gripping than Hatchet but with a subtler, more penetrating delineation of its protagonist."
Another tautly written survival story, much like Hatchet (1987, Newbery Honor Book) in design, though not in incident. Read full book review >
HATCHET by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1987

"A winner."
A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. Read full book review >
THE CROSSING by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1987

"Graphic details and some harsh language make this a book for older children and teen-agers who will not want to put it down."
Returning to some of the themes of Sentries, Paulsen tells a harshly taut story, set in a Mexican border town, about two people who meet on the edge of oblivion. Read full book review >
SENTRIES by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1986

"The novel's power lies in the immediacy of these truncated beginnings; its only hope is in the title: if these promising young people are sentries, can they guard against annihilation of the fecund world so poignantly evoked on Paulsen's last page?"
Four young adults come to dramatic realizations that would profoundly alter their futures. . .if the world survived. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 31, 1978

"The acute observations outweigh the portentousness."
When you hoe beets you're alone, so alone you might as well be on another planet," and when you work a carnival, it's like being separate, detached, "from outer space"—and it's the runaway narrator's immersion in these other worlds that gives Paulsen's high-key, deep-think story a real punch. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 20, 1977

"No index, for that matter, not that there'd be anything to look up."
Hosannas for American farming as the biggest, the best, the most bountiful in the world—and a raspberry for those backward little guys in Europe and Asia about whose prodigies of production Paulsen evidently knows nothing at all. Read full book review >
THE FOXMAN by Gary Paulsen
Released: April 1, 1977

"But the boy's relationship with the old man seems stagey, and the Foxman himself only a mouthpiece."
Set during the Korean war, this combination wilderness/anti-war story is narrated by a fifteen-year-old boy sent by the court to his Uncle's northern Minnesota farm after "my folks decided to stay drunk all the time." Read full book review >
WINTERKILL by Gary Paulsen
Released: Oct. 1, 1976

"Ultimately Duda's brand of toughness is simply bathetic, but readers who can take the explicit violence and are mature enough not to mistake clever writing for profundity will want to make that judgment on their own."
It's a measure of Paulsen's gut level effectiveness that one really does come to feel some affection for Duda, a corrupt cop who extorts graft from kids in the form of illegally taken fish, who spends most of his night shifts shooting rabbits and visiting his mistress, and who kills two unresisting bank robbers in cold blood. Read full book review >
Released: April 26, 1976

"Good luck."
Workbench instructions with photos on foundations, framing, siding, roofing, heating, plumbing, electrical wiring, trimming, and painting that snug cottage of your dreams. Read full book review >
MR. TUCKET by Gary Paulsen
Released: Sept. 1, 1969

A wild (i.e. unfocused, unfounded) Western that turns sanctimonious at the conclusion. Read full book review >