Gary Paulsen is famous for writing about adventure and endurance. He has published over one hundred and fifty books in his lifetime and has won many awards for his novels. Paulsen writes mostly for young adults, although he also has several books for adults. Paulsen is one of the greatest contemporary authors for young adults. .
Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Paulsen spent much of his early life in Minneapolis, which is the setting for many of his books. Paulsen became very sick when he was a child; he had respiratory infections and had pneumonia five times in the course of two years. His doctors thought that he was going to die, and it was a very scary experience for him. However, Paulsen did not die and lived to write about the incident in his book, The Madonna Stories (1988). .
Paulsen did not meet his father, Oscar Paulsen, until he was seven because he was away fighting in the Second World War. Paulsen's parents, Oscar and Eunice Paulsen, were not very good parents; and he was often left home alone while his parents were out drinking. Paulsen was forced to begin working at an early age, doing jobs like setting bowling pins and selling newspapers, in order to have enough money to buy himself clothes and food, which his parents did not supply him with. .
When Gary Paulsen was in high school, he experienced a turning point in his life. He was walking past the public library when the librarian asked him if he wanted a library card. He said yes; and when she asked him if he wanted to check out a book, he again said yes. The librarian gave him a book and told him to bring it back when he was done. Paulsen began reading books in the basement of his house. At first it took Paulsen about a month to read a book, but gradually he got to be a faster reader and was able to read two books in one week. As Paulsen later recalls, "When she handed me a library card, she handed me the world.