Sometimes 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.