Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen

masters-of-disasterCindy: “Men, I have a great idea.” When Henry launches into one of his great ideas, Riley starts taking scientific notes and Reed starts wondering how bad he will smell after the execution of this latest idea! One of my favorite Gary Paulsen books is How Angel Peterson Got His Name. This new offering, Masters of Disaster (Random/Wendy Lamb 2010) brings similar crazy boy stunts to a slightly younger audience. Henry’s plan is to “Undertake and Implement a Series of Daring Experiences and Grand Adventures” that will “Prove Our Manhood and Show us What We’re Made Of.” a side benefit might be to “Impress Girls and Get Them to Notice US.”

Of course, Henry is the brains behind this operation, and Riley the dutiful recorder, so it is Reed who risks life and limb riding a bike off a rooftop blindfolded, with hands tied to the handlebars…oh, and throw in a forward somersault or two onto a diving board and bouncing onto a Hydro 3000 super-reinforced, spring-loaded swimming pool cover…no problem.  As the stunts get crazier, yes, crazier, Reed smells worse and worse–poop is only the half of it–and his mother moves him from his bedroom, to the basement, to the garage to spare the family’s olfactory senses. Upper elementary and middle school boys will be laughing from one adventure to the next…and girls might just get an inkling of how adolescent boys hope to impress them…yes, we know there is hyperbole at work here, but we all know boys who would be just daring (or stupid) enough to try at least one of these great ideas!

Lynn:  Paulsen’s newest oh-so-funny book should come with a warning label.  Do NOT Try This at Home!  I read several chapters of this to the focus group and could see the gleam in their eyes as they contemplated some of the adventures.  Each chapter tells of one adventure making this ideal for quick read alouds or enticing reluctant readers.  While the main audience is male, many female readers will enjoy this too if only to shake their heads at how close to real life these crazy Masters of Disaster actually are!  There was the time my youngest son and his buddy rigged a cable from his bedroom on the second floor…well, I did promise him I’d stop telling those stories now that he is a parent.  This is the same son who grew up to be an Army Ranger and jump out of airplanes so I really don’t need to say more.  Just hand this to a boy – any boy – and watch them laugh.

Cindy and Lynn: We recently had the wonderful opportunity of having dinner with Gary when he was in Grand Haven to record a couple of his books for Brilliance Audio. He is a consumate storyteller in print or in person and had us laughing and touched by his stories. Talk turned to the dire situation of librarian job cuts in Michigan and elsewhere, and we saw Gary’s ire rise. “We are the only species to store its intelligence and memory extra-genetically. We organize it into books and house them in libraries. Why would we want to eliminate the ONE THING that distinguishes us from all other species? Why?” It was a great night.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

5 Comments on "Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen"

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  1.' Angela says:

    LOL at the category “Stupid People Tricks”! One of the best names ever.

    It’s been a depressing week in library news – Queens Library just announced they’re not purchasing new material until at least July, when the new city budget comes in. The alternative was cutting more positions or branch hours. Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place, and thank goodness the Friends of the library have a donation drive going so at least some books will keep coming into the system. Absolutely LOVE Gary Paulsen’s thoughts.

  2.' Laura W. says:

    Thanks for sharing Paulsen’s thoughts on libraries. Always nice to have authors share their support. Can’t wait to get me hands on this funny book 🙂

  3.' bob says:

    this book is awsome

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