a key figure in young adult literature who won three Newberry Medals and a Margaret Edwards Award, among other accolades, died in the morning of October 13, 2021. In a tweet later that day, Publishers Weekly verified it, but the cause of death is yet unclear.
His books were a continuous rotation in my mother’s school library, with students who waited patiently for them to be returned picking them up practically as soon as they touched the shelf. His novels had some of the most well-worn covers, with any paperbacks loving the velvet softness around the edges. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through a Hatchet book report presentation.
Hatchet was given to any student who didn’t like reading or preferred to be outside, and they would always return to read the sequels: The River (1991), Brian’s Winter (1996), Brian’s Return (1999), and Brian’s Hunt (2000). (2003).
Hatchet and the following novels in the series aren’t Paulsen’s only works, however.
He was a prolific author who penned over 200 novels, many of them were on the outdoors, adventure, and survival. He authored two memoirs on his adventures with sled dog racing, Woodsong, and Winterdance, the latter of which was the basis for the 2002 Disney picture Snow Dogs, based on his actual experiences in the wild (he even participated in a sled dog race in 1983!
However, they aren’t his only autobiographical writings; he also authored a number of volumes about his life, detailing how he learned to comprehend the environment. In fact, in Guts: The True Stories of Hatchet and the Brian Books, he lays out a lot of it. Paulsen was born in 1939, and it goes without saying that he had a rough upbringing. Much of it taught him to be self-sufficient at an early age, an experience that he subsequently reflected on in his work. However, according to his autobiography, Eastern Sun, Western Moon: An Autobiographical Odyssey, he struggled in his literary courses in primary school. But this means that his subsequent passion for books, as well as his respect for them, is all the more meaningful.
facts about Gary Paulsen was famously of the Luddite persuasion
hating most anything technology related, but he did admit that shooting TVs was enjoyable. He opted to live in New Mexico with his wife in relative poverty, avoiding cities as much as possible, claiming that this was the only way he could think properly. He professed to despise humans, with the exception of children, for whom he wrote the most. Give a hesitant young reader a Gary Paulsen novel, and you’ll have a new reader and a life transformed. Gary Paulsen continued to write for children right up to the end; his most recent book, How to Train Your Dad, was released last month, in September 2021.
Name the book that has had the most impact on you. I’m sure you read it before puberty. I want to create creative books — for youngsters – in the time I have left since they are still receptive to new ideas.
Fans of his works quickly went to the internet after learning of his passing, penning little eulogies of their own, grieving a public person who was essential to so many people’s childhoods in the only manner we know how: communally. Fans told how they grew up reading his novels and how they passed them on to their children when the time came; how he instilled a love of the outdoors in others; and how they learnt so much about survival from his tales, lessons they will never forget. There were even a handful of tales from fans about how he and his novels inspired them to join sled dog racing. Even if it arrived to him through the internet, I believe he would have appreciated it.
facts about Gary Paulsen‘s voice will be sorely missed. May his memory be a gift forever, and while we grieve and remember a man who influenced many a reader, I’ll leave you with this statement, a reminder that he valued us as much as we valued him:
Even if books could have more, offer more, be more, show more, they would still need readers to provide sound, scent, light, and everything else that books cannot provide.
You are required by the text.