Sometimes I think Gary Paulsen woke up one morning, looked at the complete cannon of Children’s literature, found it deficient in testosterone and wenSometimes I think Gary Paulsen woke up one morning, looked at the complete cannon of Children’s literature, found it deficient in testosterone and went to work. Although I was familiar, through word of mouth, with the urination scene in Harris and Me, I had as yet never taken the opportunity to read this memoir from cover to cover. It is worth the price of the book to experience the full blast of the most audacious nine-year-old boy ever to don a pair of overalls.
Through his trademark no-name narrator, (who I suppose would be named Gary as this is shelved in the biography section), Paulsen tells of a summer spent with distant relatives on a hard-working farm. Enter the youngest of the family, nine-year-old Harris. Harris can stir up more trouble before the second breakfast of the day than a wagonload of puppies let loose in a shoe factory. He has a mouth that would impress a battalion of Marines. He is not shy at picking fights with disgruntled roosters, “commie Jap” porcine, or a faintly domesticated Lynx. Not to mention the fearlessness with which he took on a dare that threatened the wellbeing of his delicate “business”.
There is no doubt that this book should have wide appeal among the males of the pre-adolecent set. I am not above using reverse psychology to intrigue young male readers when it comes to this type of book. I managed to rack up quite a hold list for How Angel Peterson Got His Wings by telling them that it was much too dangerous a book for them to read and would give them unhealthy ideas. I can now add that caution to another autobiographical offering from Mr. Paulsen. It’s a wonder he lived to write about his youth. Thank goodness he did.
Monster in the City picks up seconds after its predecessor ends, with Portia, Jason, and Jellaby stranded next to the train tracks after jumping clearMonster in the City picks up seconds after its predecessor ends, with Portia, Jason, and Jellaby stranded next to the train tracks after jumping clear of the train that was taking them to the city where they hoped to uncover the mystery of Jellaby’s origins. Once the intrepid trio makes it to the city they encounter thrills, spills, intrigues and danger. Although I found the second book sweet and amusing, and a bit menacing, it was harder for me to follow than the first. Soo uses flashbacks and illusions more in this tale, challenging the reader to sort out the reality. I’m not sure if young readers will struggle in the same way that I did with comprehension, I find they tend to ‘speak’ comic better than I. Fans of the first are sure to enjoy further adventures with Jellaby and Co., even with the few unresolved issues left dangling. ...more
So very funny! Funny enough to cause riotous giggling, which caused my daughter to question my sanity, upon hearing the hilarity issuing from a room eSo very funny! Funny enough to cause riotous giggling, which caused my daughter to question my sanity, upon hearing the hilarity issuing from a room empty of all but myself?...more
I have students who plow through Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, and The Ranger's Apprentice and come for air looking for the next great hero quest series.I have students who plow through Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, and The Ranger's Apprentice and come for air looking for the next great hero quest series. Now I can add Alfred Kropp to the arsenal of unlikely adolescents turned savior of the world....more
What is the one thing that excites the imagination of a 12-year-old more than anything else on the planet? It’s not sugary substances in colors and flWhat is the one thing that excites the imagination of a 12-year-old more than anything else on the planet? It’s not sugary substances in colors and flavors found nowhere in nature? The diabetic pull on the tastebuds is lessening by this age. Neither is it yet the delights of the opposite sex? Let me tell you what will get the average tween to sit up and take notice above all else. It is cold hard cash. I discovered this the first time I read Gary Paulson’s Lawn Boy to my 6th grade classes.
The 12-year-old protagonist is given an old riding lawn mower, and through a perfect storm of circumstances he becomes the neighborhood lawn service. Within the first 10 pages the character has figured out the math of mowing lawns every moment of the summer, and it adds up to over 7,000 big ones. Once that little bit of arithmetic has been figured out, I have a captive audience for the next few weeks as we finish the book. Throw in a marketing expert, a more robust economy than we are presently enjoying, a few villains, and a heavy-weight boxer the size of a Toyota and I have what I like to call the perfect way to end sixth grade.