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

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  528 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Longlisted for the National Book Award

The Newbery Honor–winning author of Hatchet and Dogsong shares surprising true stories about his relationship with animals, highlighting their compassion, intellect, intuition, and sense of adventure.

Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this wo
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  528 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Memoirs are a huge part of Gary Paulsen's career. He led a life of fascinating variety, from driving sled dogs over hundreds of miles of frozen Alaskan wilderness, to cruising the Pacific Ocean alone in small boats; from serving in the U.S. military, to living in Midwestern solitude with his wife and a menagerie of animals. As he did in Woodsong, My Life in Dog Years, and Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers, Gary Paulsen delivers a new batch of his adventures in This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, adult-nonfiction
I read an ARC of this book, so I won't quote any passages, as small changes may be made in the final version. I liked this book a lot just because of Mr. Paulsen's openness to the idea that we humans should acknowledge the strengths animals possess and which we humans do not. He has, throughout his life, observed animals show innate skills lacking in humans. The chapters almost felt like stand-alone stories as he remembered animals he had known. In particular, I liked his story of a tiny, elderl ...more
I've taught middle school for a long time, and often used Gary Paulsen's introductions to his books as mentor texts. Just find "The Winter Room" and its introduction ("Tuning") so beautifully sharing that books cannot have smells, or sound, or light, since these must be supplied by the reader in response to the author's words. They are wonderful examples of drawing the reader in immediately, with passion for whatever the topic is he's going to tell us about. This book, the intro and the final wo ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

In this memoir, Paulsen serves up a variety of anecdotes about the animals that have come into his life at various times. These include an account of a small rescue poodle, Corky, who is a more vicious guard dog than he expected, a dog named Gretchen who liked to sit at the kitchen table and "talk" to him, and two horses that went with him exploring. Paulsen's experiences are certainly unique and interesting, and a good choice for reluctant readers, since t
Ms. Cascio
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen

If you were lucky enough to read Hatchet you know that the author, Gary Paulsen, is capable of writing great stories. He has recently written an autobiography with a theme centering around the animals in his life. If you love your pet or even the wildlife around you, reading this book will touch your soul. Specific parts of the book will pull at your heartstrings and might even help you answer the question, “Does this animal really understand me?” In this story,
Hunter Falish
The book "This Side of Wild", is by Gary Paulsen, and talks about his experiences with animals that have made an impact on his life. Many of the animals he talks about in this book are dogs. To begin, he talks about one of his pets as a child, a large work horse, that he used to play with. He used to play Cowboys and Indians with a friend from this horse's back. That is, until the day the horse said enough was enough. Gary had made a homemade bow that he had been aiming at the barn wall. The onl ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I hoped the powerful combination of Paulsen's skill as a writer and being on the long list for the National Book Award would make this an enjoyable read. And it is--for teens and adults. Paulsen's meandering pace and sophisticated phrasing/language will be challenging for anyone under 14 (I'm using that age because it's the Newbery cutoff). It also may be difficult for anyone under that age to relate to Paulsen's adult angst- military service, nuclear war, alcoholic parents - that he works out t ...more
Cole Syring
This is a really good book to read if your an outdoor person. It gives you a whole different look on the outdoors. It really shows how different types of animals live and do. It compares the difference between house pets and animals that live in the wild that couldn't live in houses. It helps you get ready to camp in the outdoors or want to live in the wilderness just read this book and that will help you out. If you want to be a hunter this book helps you out knowing where certain animals live ...more
Ryan King
Feb 28, 2019 is currently reading it
To be honest, I really liked this book. It was interesting in some parts, but I just didn't like it that much. I usually like Gary Paulsen's books. But a reason I kind of liked this book was because it had to do with the wild. He had to train his dog for the iditarod in the book. This is why I like the book. I like it because I've learned about the Iditarod and it is interesting. The dog probably had to go through a lot of training. It was a small dog too. I dont get why he would use that dog fo ...more
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
I love Gary Paulsen. So I was surprised to find this new book at the library. How had I missed it's debut!?! I plunged into it.

THIS SIDE OF WILD isn't a long book and I read it in a few hours. I think it's a combination of true life and exaggeration. But I could be wrong.

I do know that it draws on Gary's diverse life experiences. It touches upon a time when he was in the army, as well as when he was a wee child. He recalls his experiences running the Iditarod and living in the desert. Tying all
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book I chose is This Side Of Wild by Gary Paulsen. It is about Gary Paulsen's life and it is pretty amazing what he has done. He has competed in two Iditarod's, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorn Mountains. Animals were a very big part in this book to name a few the sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him through a long journey across a desert. And if you like adventure I would recommend this book also because it ...more
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I often struggle when trying to be objective and review books for younger readers. Gary Paulsen makes it easy though with This Side of Wild because it doesn't read like it's intended for a certain age group: it reads like a guy reminiscing and telling stories about animals (and some humans, too). If I had picked this up without any knowledge of the audience I would only have thought it short at about 120 pages. Very conversationally, Paulsen tells stories, often interrupting himself to tell a li ...more
One thing I can say about Gary Paulsen is that he knows how to tell a good story. And the man has definitely had some interesting experiences in his life. This particular book focuses on a few of the experiences he has had with animals. While the stories do get a bit rambling as he alternates between the time of the story and previous experiences, the stories themselves are fascinating. Everything from getting bitten by a rattlesnake to his guard poodle who warned him about a bear, to a very int ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s, abandoned
middlegrade nonfiction. Gary Paulsen true adventure stories with more animals? I thought he couldn't miss with that one, but I found the entries inside a bit fragmented, like partial journal entries from a mind that wanders a lot. Which still might be really good, but I was hoping for something that younger kids might pick up and get into right away, and after 18 pages I hadn't found that.
Valeria Navarro (Valesbookshelf)
This book is the type of book thats meant to turn into a classic.
And it should.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rdng513
In select snippets from his lifetime of interacting with animals, Gary Paulsen describes preparing to dogsled the Iditarod through the Alaskan wilderness and facing off with the murder of smart, mischievous ravens. He writes reverently about a dog named Gretchen that figured out her special means of communication and then trained her human companions how to speak it. And he affectionately honors the sickly, nine-pound toy poodle that once saved his life from an overly curious grizzly bear lurkin ...more
Maggie Menkus
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gary Paulsen is an amazing writer, and his prose is driven by his incredible experiences in life. I had no idea he competed in two Iditarods, lived in the Minnesota wilderness and climbed Bighorn Mountains. These adventures have given him endless stories about nature, and I was thrilled to read this short book on his encounters with wild animals.

This really is a compilation of short stories, but there is a fine thread of continuity in this compendium of observations about living things in nature
Scotty Burford
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gary Paulsen is hysterical in this book about the shrewdness, wisdom and kindness often overlooked in animals. His many fantastic, true stories are told in a light-hearted self-depricating manner that definitely keeps the reader engaged. It's also a very quick read, which is nice.

I didn't give this a full 5 stars because there is a little bit of foul language (despite its being published by Scholastic) and I feel as though Paulsen holds animals' intellect and authority a little too high at time
Nancy Palmer
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I really like Gary Paulsen but I didn't get into this nonfiction book. In this book are stories from his life about what he has learned about and from animals. He has a lot of respect for animals and some of the stories were interesting, but maybe it was the way the narrator read the stories or that I missed all of the action and thrills that his fiction stories have which made me dislike this book. The best story was the first one that is pictured on the cover - the toy poodle that became his c ...more
Scott Whitney
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some great stories from Paulsen's own experiences. It makes a person think about the different powers of animals we have in our life. We may think we are the ones in charge here, but who is really training whom. The stories in the book show some of the power and wisdom which comes from the animals in our lives. I also really like the three questions at then end. It is enough to get a person thinking.
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I reviewed this book for my class, which I quickly discovered was not written for 4th graders, as the vocabulary was a little advanced. Gary Paulsen's writing, as usual, was good, but (to me) something felt disjointed in this book. This Side of Wild is a nonlinear autobiography of the author's life, focusing on the animals in his life that had the most influence on his life and thinking. Not bad overall, but perhaps just not my cup of tea.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hatchet fans
Gary Paulsen has miles of outdoor experience and friendships with animals. In this memoir, he tells some of the uncanny events that occurred with dogs and horses of his life. Through his observations of nature, he comes to believe that animals are more intelligent than we give them credit for, and that they often are the trainers and we the trained. He has some very interesting perspectives and I'm excited to recommend this book to kids who love his fiction.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was okay. I kind of liked it, but had issues with it at the same time.
It had very boring formatting. It was so boring that it made me want to through it out a window. But only at some points, like when he was setting the tone of the story. Other times it actually pretty interesting. Like when he was actually talking about the animals. So basically I tolerated the boring parts to get to the good parts.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A memoir of sorts, in which Paulsen recounts true stories of how he learned that man is, indeed, not the top dog on the planet. He personally witnessed dogs training humans to do certain things, as well as birds, bees, and other creatures doing the same with humans and other animals. A short, quick read that will entertain you, as well as inform you about the nature of things.
Paula Stock
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a short account of different animals that Gary has encountered throughout his life. Some are dogs, but not all the stories are about his furry friends. He has learned valuable lessons from many other species that we can all find valuable as well. While not the best I have ever read from Paulsen, I thoroughly enjoyed his stories. Good for all ages!
James Biser
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is an excellent story about the animals around us. Paulsen has become schooled in what makes each animal tick and the hidden treasures that each beast has. This book holds a wealth of stories about the genius of birds and the dexterity of several mammals we all know. It even mentions the genius of dogs.
Cherie Nef
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although I loved hatchet, this book left me flat. I'm not sure who the audience is supposed to be. It has a cute cover and is being promoted in the Scholastic sales magazine, but the stories move too slow for the children I teach. I won't be purchasing this for the school library or putting it on the shelves because I don't see my students wanting to read it.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiotapes
His life experiences with animals and what he learned from them are fascinating! I'm not sure I see things philosophically the way he did, but I did enjoy hearing his stories. He has done some amazing things during his lifetime. I appreciated his humor during his story-telling. This was a good audiobook for our short road trip.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has some really cool stories, but a couple of them focus on the author being worried about how animals might hurt him, and it tells stories about people he heard about who got hurt by animals- this book isn't really appropriate for young or highly sensitive readers, but the stories in it are funny and engaging.
Heydi Smith
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The many stories in this book are brilliant and the fact that they are real life makes them that much more compelling.

I was hooked from the first page and everyone there after.

A gold mind for reluctant readers since the stories are packed with adventure and short enough to keep wondering minds focused.
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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 adve
“While now and then you hear somebody talking about how “. . . beautiful and elegant the predator-prey relationship is, how natural and proper the death of the prey is,” it is usually so much misunderstood balderdash by people who have not witnessed it very many times, or worse, by people who have witnessed only highly edited versions on film.” 2 likes
“It’s just that those things don’t seem to have the weight, the measureless beauty of countless sunsets and dawns, the simple grace and clear glory of nature.” 2 likes
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