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Gary Paulsen (1939–2021)

Author of Hatchet

253+ Works 82,144 Members 1,846 Reviews 50 Favorited

About the Author

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in show more 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Gary Paulsen (1939-2021) was a popular writer of children's literature. He also wrote adult nonfiction (Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod).


Works by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet (1987) 17,706 copies
Brian's Winter (1858) 5,590 copies
The River (1994) 4,185 copies
Brian's Hunt (2003) 3,290 copies
Lawn Boy (2007) 2,932 copies
Dogsong (1985) 2,840 copies
Brian's Return (2000) 2,629 copies
Woodsong (1990) 2,301 copies
The Winter Room (1989) 1,960 copies
Tracker (1984) 1,892 copies
Woods Runner (2010) 1,791 copies
Mudshark (2009) 1,694 copies
The Voyage of the Frog (1989) 1,510 copies
Nightjohn (1996) 1,285 copies
Harris and Me (1994) 1,232 copies
Soldier's Heart (1998) 1,228 copies
Mr. Tucket (1833) 1,051 copies
Guts (2001) 1,039 copies
Lawn Boy Returns (2010) 1,014 copies
Canyons (1990) 972 copies
The Haymeadow (1992) 925 copies
My Life in Dog Years (1998) 922 copies
The Cookcamp (1991) 784 copies
The Island (1988) 734 copies
The Transall Saga (1998) 681 copies
The Monument (1993) 661 copies
The Crossing (1987) 627 copies
The Tortilla Factory (1995) 603 copies
Masters of Disaster (2010) 601 copies
The Rifle (1995) 531 copies
Notes from the Dog (2009) 490 copies
The Foxman (1977) 489 copies
Sarny (1997) 451 copies
The Car (1994) 406 copies
Call Me Francis Tucket (1800) 400 copies
The Boy Who Owned The School (1990) 347 copies
Road Trip (2013) 336 copies
Tucket's Ride (Signature) (1656) 326 copies
A Christmas Sonata (1992) 325 copies
Dancing Carl (1983) 325 copies
The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006) 311 copies
Shelf Life: Stories by the Book (2003) — Editor — 305 copies
Tucket's Gold (1999) 300 copies
Alida's Song (1999) 271 copies
Sentries (1984) 263 copies
Dogteam (1993) 263 copies
Escape, Return, Breakout (2000) 244 copies
The Time Hackers (2005) 239 copies
Danger on Midnight River (1900) 237 copies
Tracker / Dogsong / Hatchet (1987) 221 copies
The Schernoff Discoveries (1997) 218 copies
Canoe Days (1999) 200 copies
Tucket's Home (1858) 191 copies
Escape from Fire Mountain (1994) 191 copies
The Quilt (2004) 186 copies
The Tent (1995) 166 copies
Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass (1992) 157 copies
Northwind (2022) 150 copies
Worksong (1997) 133 copies
Father Water, Mother Woods (1994) 124 copies
The Seventh Crystal (1996) 99 copies
Field Trip (1605) 95 copies
Sisters/Hermanas (1993) 92 copies
Dunc's Halloween (1992) 91 copies
Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat (2016) 87 copies
Tiltawhirl John (1977) 77 copies
Cowpokes and Desperados (1993) 74 copies
How to Train Your Dad (2021) 71 copies
The Case of the Dirty Bird (1992) 66 copies
Grizzly (1997) 59 copies
Rodomonte's Revenge (1994) 58 copies
Vote (2013) 56 copies
Family Ties (1800) 47 copies
Captive! (1995) 44 copies
Fishbone's Song (2016) 43 copies
Devil's Wall (1995) 42 copies
Culpepper's Cannon (1992) 41 copies
Curse of the Ruins (1998) 40 copies
Dunc Breaks the Record (1992) 35 copies
Dunc's Undercover Christmas (1993) 34 copies
Dunc Gets Tweaked (1992) 34 copies
Dunc and the Flaming Ghost (1992) 31 copies
Dunc's Doll (1992) 28 copies
Amos Gets Famous (1992) 26 copies
The Treasure Ship (1996) 23 copies
Hook 'Em Snotty (1995) 22 copies
Transall Saga: Blue Light (1998) 21 copies
Time Benders (1997) 19 copies
Perfect Danger (1996) 18 copies
Dunc's Dump (1993) 18 copies
The Gorgon Slayer (1995) 18 copies
Dunc and the Haunted Castle (1993) 18 copies
The Fourteenth Summer (1993) 17 copies
Coach Amos (1994) 17 copies
Dunc and the Scam Artists (1993) 17 copies
My Life In Dog Years: Ike (1997) 16 copies
Murphy's Trail (1996) 16 copies
Prince Amos (1994) 15 copies
Thunder Valley (1997) 15 copies
The Wild Culpepper Cruise (1993) 15 copies
Meteorite Track 291 (1979) 14 copies
Skydive (1996) 14 copies
Ice Race (1997) 13 copies
Madonna Stories (1989) 13 copies
Tasting the Thunder (1993) 12 copies
A Cry in the Wild [1990 film] (1991) — Screenwriter — 12 copies
Amos and the Vampire (1996) 10 copies
Kill fee (1990) 9 copies
Amos Binder, Secret Agent (1996) 9 copies
Murphy's Gold (1989) 9 copies
Murphy's War (1990) 8 copies
Murphy's Herd (1989) 8 copies
Winterkill (1976) 8 copies
Amos Gets Married (1995) 8 copies
Amos Goes Bananas (1996) 8 copies
Amos and the Alien (1994) 7 copies
Dunc and Amos on Thin Ice (1997) 7 copies
Vento del Nord (2022) 6 copies
Murphy (1987) 6 copies
Hiking and backpacking (1978) 5 copies
Clutterkill (1981) 5 copies
TV & movie animals (1980) 4 copies
The Small Ones (1976) 4 copies
Super Amos (1997) 4 copies
Gefährliche Ferien (2005) 4 copies
Hatchet / The River (1999) 4 copies
Il mio amico geniale (2021) 4 copies
The Sweeper (1980) 4 copies
Nelle terre selvagge (2014) 4 copies
Chance for Escape (1970) 3 copies
Some birds don't fly (1968) 3 copies
Things I Like Copy Colour (2011) 2 copies
Woodsong (ABRIDGED) (1999) 2 copies
Plygu amser (2001) 2 copies
The implosion effect (1976) 2 copies
The CB Radio Caper (1977) 2 copies
Storie 1 copy
The Death Specialists (1977) 1 copy
The Curse of the Cobra (1977) 1 copy
Compkill (1981) 1 copy
Pied Piper 1 copy
Books 1 copy
Lawn Boy - 1 1 copy
Lawn Boy - 2 1 copy
Lawn Boy - 3 1 copy
The green recruit (1978) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Call of the Wild (1903) — Foreword, some editions — 20,245 copies
Guys Write for Guys Read (2005) — Contributor — 770 copies
Storm: Stories of Survival from Land and Sea (2000) — Contributor — 44 copies


adventure (3,273) Alaska (537) American literature (250) animals (611) biography (211) boys (307) Canada (386) chapter book (738) children (267) children's (598) children's literature (224) classic (553) classics (625) coming of age (197) divorce (248) dogs (766) family (180) fiction (4,900) Gary Paulsen (402) historical fiction (837) humor (411) juvenile (268) juvenile fiction (299) literature (301) memoir (256) nature (447) Newbery (175) Newbery Honor (405) non-fiction (421) novel (462) read (394) realistic fiction (1,452) series (297) survival (2,496) to-read (1,087) wilderness (770) wolves (235) YA (773) young adult (1,043) young adult fiction (209)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Paulsen, Gary
Legal name
Paulsen, Gary Melvin
Date of death
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Place of death
Tularosa, New Mexico
Cause of death
cardiac arrest
Places of residence
California, USA
Minnesota, USA
New Mexico, USA
Bemidji State University
University of Colorado
children's book author
Paulsen, Ruth Wright (wife)
United States Army
Awards and honors
Margaret A. Edwards Award (1997)
Regina Medal (1995)
Disambiguation notice
Gary Paulsen (1939-2021) was a popular writer of children's literature. He also wrote adult nonfiction (Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod).



This is a book about Brian, a 13-year-old boy who survived a plane crash and has to survive the wilderness of Canada until his parents can find him. This is a good book to show students how much they know and how to use their funds of knowledge to be successful. Throughout this book, the reader can see the themes of survival resilience, and self-discovery.
jxm304 | 579 other reviews | Apr 28, 2024 |
Twelve-year-old city kid Brian Robeson is flying to visit his father for the summer after his parents' divorce. During the flight, the pilot has a heart attack, and Brian lands the plane, but has no idea where he is. He escapes the wreck and makes a shelter near a lake, and must figure out how to get food and start a fire with nothing but his hatchet as he hopes for rescue.

This was the book that the Homeschool Book Group chose from the book tasting, so I'm re-reading it for the first time since grade school. The premise is as gripping as I remember - a great hook for book-talking - but the sentences are short, declarative, and repetitive, very "Hemingway for Kids." Still, it's a classic for a reason, and retains its appeal with that speculative, what-if-it-were-me aspect.

Questions for book group:
--What do you think of the narrative style (close third person; short, declarative sentences)? How does it help create the atmosphere/mood of the story?
--If you could choose 3-5 items to have with you in a survival scenario like Brian's, what do you think would be most important?
--What does Brian think is "the most important rule of survival"? Do you agree? What does he learn to prioritize?
--Brian relies on information he's learned from watching nature shows on TV. What knowledge do you have that would help you in a survival scenario, and where did you learn it?
--Brian muses about good luck and bad luck. Can you think of something that happened in the story that seemed like bad luck at first, but had a good result (or vice versa)? [e.g. when the tornado comes through, it ruins Brian's shelter but reveals the Cessna]
--The story ends somewhat abruptly, soon after Brian gets the survival pack out of the downed plane and turns on the transmitter. What did you think of the ending? Were you surprised that the pilot who rescues Brian said they had given up the search a month or two ago?
--For much of the story, Brian's thoughts are primarily focused on survival, with thoughts of his parents fading into the background. What do you think about "the Secret" that causes Brian to be so angry at his mother? Do you think Brian's father knows?


If you keep walking back from good luck, he thought, you'll come to back luck. (40)

Here, at first, it was silent, or he thought it was silent, but when he started to listen, really listen, he heard thousands of things. (41)

And he was, at that moment, almost overcome with self-pity. He was dirty and starving and bitten and hurt and lonely and ugly and afraid and so completely miserable that it was like being in a pit, a dark, deep pit with no way out. (70)

...he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. (82)

He had gotten depressed thinking about how they hadn't found him yet, and when he was busy and had something to do the depression seemed to leave. (104)

He was not the same. The plane passing changed him, the disappointment cut him down and made him new. He was not the same and would never be again like he had been. (123)

Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience - waiting and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking. (145)

The rifle changed him, the minute he picked it up, and he wasn't sure that he liked the change very much. (186)

Up and down, he thought. The pack was wonderful but it gave him and up and down feelings. (187)

He had not moved. It had all happened so fast that he hadn't moved. He sat...staring at the plane, not quite understanding it yet; not quite knowing yet that it was over. (190)
… (more)
JennyArch | 579 other reviews | Apr 25, 2024 |
independent reading level: grade 4-12
John Newberry Award,
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award
daylaj | 579 other reviews | Apr 24, 2024 |
Wow. Growing up reading Hatchet every year for school, I knew a little of where Gary Paulsen came from (thanks to the 25th-anniversary edition). When I saw a chance to review this book, I jumped right on board.
The first thing that stuck out to me about Gone to the Woods was the writing style. It was quite similar to the one in Hatchet but it was a bit choppy due to fragmented sentences. This got old pretty quick considering the length of this book.
However, the story really drew me in. There was so much that Gary went through as a kid and it was quite moving.
I absolutely loved Gary's reaction of finishing his first book and the library.
This book is marketed as middle-grade, but I do not recommend it to middle-grade readers. It deals with a lot of difficult and mature topics (domestic violence, abuse, violence of war, mentions std's, drinking issues).
Rating: 3.5/5
Language: a**, d***, p***
Violence: see above
Romance: n/a
Spiritual: n/a
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own and a positive review was not required.
… (more)
libraryofemma | 13 other reviews | Apr 18, 2024 |


1980s (1)
Canada (1)


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Associated Authors

Ruth Paulsen Illustrator
Jerry Pinkney Illustrator
Leslie W. Bowman Illustrator
Gregory Maguire Contributor
Kathleen Karr Contributor
Jennifer L. Holm Contributor
Ellen Conford Contributor
Ellen Wittlinger Contributor
Marion Dane Bauer Contributor
Joan Bauer Contributor
M. T. Anderson Contributor
A. LaFaye Contributor
Peter Coyote Narrator
Tom Parks Narrator
Jos. A. Smith Cover artist
Cathleen Toelke Cover artist


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