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Gary Paulsen, the acclaimed and prolific children’s author who often drew attention to his rural likeness and sweeping adventures to stories like “Hachet,” “Bryan’s Winter” and “Dogsong,” has died at the age of 82.

Random House Children’s Books announced that Paulson died “suddenly” on Wednesday, but did not immediately provide further details. Literary agent Jennifer Flannery told The Associated Press that he died at his home in New Mexico, where he lived with his third wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who illustrated some of his work.


The author of more than 100 books, with sales of over 35 million, Paulson was a three-time finalist for the John Newbery Medal for Best Children’s Book of the Year and the recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1997 Were.

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He was a native of Minnesota, deeply identified with the outdoors, whether sailing on the Pacific Ocean, hiking in New Mexico or racing the Alaskan dogs, weathering the cold of the Iditarod. For some time he lived in a cabin in rural Minnesota, where he finished his first novel, “The Special War”, and on a houseboat in the Pacific Ocean. He spent his later years on a remote farm in New Mexico, a bearded outsider sometimes compared to Ernest Hemingway.

“I can’t live in cities anymore,” he told The New York Times in 2006. “Last time I was in Santa Fe, I wasn’t there 20 minutes before the brewery almost knocked a tourist down the stairs. From my wife’s gallery.”

“I can’t live in towns anymore. The last time I was in Santa Fe, I wasn’t there 20 minutes before the brewery nearly dragged a tourist up the stairs of my wife’s gallery.”

– Gary Paulsen

Paulsen received the Newbery Honor Award for “Hachet,” “The Winter Room” and “Dogsong,” about a young Native Alaskan in search of a simpler past and old ways. He also wrote hundreds of articles, poetry, historical fiction and such non-fiction works as the memoir “Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood,” which came out earlier this year. His final novel, “Northwind,” will be published in January by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux Books for Younger Readers.

‘Hatchet’ novel

Many readers knew him best for his “hatchet” novels, beginning with the 1986 release, in which 13-year-old Brian Robson survives a plane crash and spends weeks in the woods, his Depends on the hatchet given by the mother. Him.

In an introduction to the 30th anniversary edition of the book, Paulsen wrote that the novel “came from the darkest part of his childhood”, when Books and Woods survived the pitiful marriage of his parents and the pain of his own social isolation. Were.

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“On my own, under trees or on a lake or by a river, I was safe and as far from danger as I ever was,” he wrote. “In the woods, I was at ease. I learned the rules and I not only survived, I thrived. Jungle and books are the only reason I found my childhood in one piece.”

The “Hachet” series continued with “The River,” “Bryan’s Winter,” in which Paulsen envisioned an alternate ending for the first novel, “Bryan’s Return” and “Brian Hunt.” He also brought out series such as Francis Tuckett Adventure Books and Murphy Westerns.

army veteran

Paulson, who grew up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, had a lot of personal experience for her work. He would remember that his parents had become so debilitated by anger and alcoholism that he was essentially taking care of himself in his early teens, even hunting his own food with a makeshift bow and arrow. was doing. He graduated from high school, attended Bemidji State University to raise his own tuition money and, in his early 20s, served in the US military. He had been a devoted reader since his teens, when he stayed at a local library on a cold winter’s day, and in his mid-20s he felt so compelled to write that he abruptly quit his job as an aerospace engineer in California. Gave.

“The need to write hit me like a brick. I had a career and a family and a house and a retirement plan and I did everything that responsible adults do. Suddenly, irreversibly, I knew how to write. ,” he explained in the introduction to the “Hachet” anniversary edition. “I edited a messy men’s magazine and, every night, I worked on short stories and articles for two editors who shredded me every morning.

“He didn’t leave a single sentence unfinished, but he taught me to write clearly and fast. And dancing with words gave me a joy and a purpose I’ve been looking for all my life.”