Like many people, you’ve probably read Gary Paulsen’s book “Hatchet” when you were in school. You might even have read some of his other books, like the “Woodsong”, “Winterdance”, “Dogsong”, and “Harris and Me”. But do you know the writer behind these works? If your answer is “No”, read on to learn more about Mr. Paulsen.
1. He Ran Away From Home.
Gary lived with his grandmother and other relatives during his early years. When he turned seven years old, his mother took him to Manila in the Philippines, where his father had already been living. Gary stayed in Manila for seven years, but those years weren’t easy for him because his parents were always fighting. Because of this, he decided to run away when he was fourteen years old.
2. He Worked In Different Jobs Before Becoming a Writer.
When he ran away, Gary worked on a sugar beet farm then in a carnival. He went back to school after that and, when he graduated from high school, he began working in various jobs. He spent three years the army and became a sergeant before becoming honorably discharged. He also worked as a farmhand, ranch hand, construction worker, truck driver, sailor, fur trapper, and even singer.
Gary was working as an engineer in an aerospace company when he realized that he wanted to be a writer. He left his job to become a proofreader and began working on his own novel. Some of his earliest works include “Some Birds Don’t Fly” and “The Special War”.
3. Many Of His Books Were Based On Personal Experiences.
A lot of children and even adults have been fascinated with his books, but many don’t know that the stories were influenced by Gary’s personal life. As a child and later a teen, he spent most of his time in the woods to get away from his parents (who were always quarreling) and learned to survive by finding his own food. He learned to forage, scavenge, and even hunt deer, moose, and other animals so he could have something to eat. Later on, he got involved in difficult bush plane landings, which inspired the plane crash in “Hatchet”.
4. He Has Joined The Iditarod Twice.
The Iditarod is a dogsled race that’s held in Alaska and covers almost 1,200 miles. Gary joined the race in 1983 and got 41st place out of 54 finishers, and he joined the race again in 1985. Two of his books (“Woodsong” and “Winterdance”) center around the Iditarod.
5. He Has Received Numerous Awards Over The Years.
Gary has been the recipient of many awards, including the Teachers’ Choice Award, the Parents’ Choice Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Book Award. He has received the Newbery Honor Book citation three times for “Hatchet”, “Dogsong”, and “The Winter Room” and was given the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1997 to honor his achievements as an author for teens.
Gary Paulsen is one of the most prolific writers in the modern times, and his coming-of-age books continue to teach survival skills to children and delight them with wonderful stories.