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Young Adult Lit WebQuests

 Webquest for How Angel Peterson Got His Name
by Gary Paulsen


Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  In his lifetime he has written more than 175 books, 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays. He writes primarily for young adults, but says that in writing he aims to "reach many different people through exploring a variety of topics and writing styles". Paulsen did not have a pleasant childhood, being that he was the son of two parents who suffered from alcoholism.  He flunked the ninth grade and barely graduated high school with a D-average.  He began using books and reading as a coping mechanism as a teenager, when he stumbled into a library on a freezing Minnesota winter day and the librarian offered him a library card.  Paulsen recalls being "thrilled" that his "very own name" was printed on the card.  He began reading everything from Westerns to Science Fiction to Melville.  He says he can "remember reading two books a week".  Although his interest in reading and literature was sparked as a teenager, he did not begin his writing career until the age of 26.  Having run away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, in addition to living in the Minnesota woods Paulsen acquired a need and a love for adventure.  Before he began writing, he held jobs as a migrant worker, a soldier, a field engineer, a truck driver, and a magazine editor.  It was through all of these experiences that he gained the inspiration to write.  Most of his writing emphasizes outdoor adventure and the beauty of nature.  He explores young adult issues with respect, sensitivity, and a little bit of humor; thus, helping his young adult fans to better deal with the often difficult process of growing and maturing.  Paulsen's first book was published in 1996, The Special War, and it was a definite reflection of his life experiences, his craving for outdoor adventure, and his love for nature.  He has won countless awards which include winning the Newbery Medal Award for three of his books, having his books appear frequently on the best books list of the American Library Association (ALA), and having several of his books win book of the year by ALA and other organizations.  In addition, he has also accomplished the amazing feat of completing twice, and currently attempting a third time to complete, the Iditarod (a 1,200 mile Alaskan dogsled race).  Currently the very talented Gary Paulsen, and his wife Ruth Wright Paulsen (an artist who has illustrated many of Gary's works) spend their time in New Mexico, Minnesota, or on their boat.  For more information on Gary Paulsen and his works please visit his website.  Gary Paulsen can be contacted through his publishers at Children's Publicity; 1540 Broadway; New York, NY; 10036.


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updated: February 14, 2007