Sunday, May 8, 2016


Middle Grade Monday is a weekly collection of blog posts assembled by author Shannon Messenger. For a complete list of posts, visit Shannon's blog HERE.

Gary Paulsen
Simon & Schuster
Ages 8 - 12


From three-time Newbery Honor author Gary Paulsen comes a laugh-out-loud novel about six wacky misfits who get stuck together in a school restroom and discover friendship.

It seemed like a normal school day, until a horrible storm forced the very cautious school administration to make everyone hole up in a safe place. Six students find themselves stuck in a tiny, questionably smelly space—a school bathroom—with a stuffed cat for entertainment. Hijinks ensue and the unexpected happens. They enter as strangers…and leave as friends.

Get to know the story even better with a special script that accompanies the novel, so any six kids can get together with their friends and perform the story anywhere they’d like.


Laurisa: Six kids in a bathroom during a storm. Where did that idea come from?
Gary: I was filling up at a gas station, and as I entered to pay, someone yelled, “Don’t step in the blood,” and I thought, “What a great first line for a book; I wonder what happens next.”

Laurisa: Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat includes a script for a play. Have you seen it performed?
Gary: Not yet, but I hope to. For years school classrooms have been sending me videotapes and CDs and flash drives with play adaptations of my books. I’ve seen a few of my books performed live, but not this one yet.

Laurisa: Are the "kids" boys or girls?
Gary: I never used him or her or he or she and I tried to pick names that were gender neutral so that any combinations of students could be any of the roles when they assigned parts to stage the play. It’s funny because most of the reviews so far have said the characters were boys, but I never meant the characters to be specifically male.

Laurisa: Which of the six kids is most like you?
Gary: Probably the quiet one playing air guitar. I’m not an airband kind of guy, but I’ve always been out of the loop a little bit, doing my own thing.

Laurisa: You recently published This Side of Wild. Tell us about it.
Gary: This Side of Wild was a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I think I had to write as many books about dogs and the outdoors and adventure as I did before I felt anyone would believe, really believe, that what I was saying about those animals was the truth and not stories I made up.

Laurisa: Give an example of how a true life event inspired one of your books.
Gary: I think it might be easier if I picked something that didn’t come from my life. Everything I write has some basis in an experience I have had.  Even Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat came from a moment in a gas station. Hatchet happened because I had been in forced landings in bush planes, Dogsong was because I had run dogs, Woodsong and This Side of Wild ARE my life. It’s all there; every book I write has pieces of my life in it somewhere.

Laurisa: What is one of the scariest things that has happened to you?
Gary: Falling through ice on a lake in the middle of winter will do until something scarier comes along. I just went, flump, down like a brick to the bottom of the lake. I looked up at the air bubbles floating to the surface and thought, “There it is, my life, there goes my life.” And then Cookie, my lead dog, pulled the team up and away from the hole I’d just plunged through. I happened to grab a piece of rope that was tied to the sled as it rose to the surface and she pulled me out of the water. She saved me, Cookie saved my life. I owe everything that happened to me after that moment to my lead dog Cookie.

Laurisa: Are there any adventures you still hope to have?
Gary: I would still love to sail the Horn and run dogs and write all the books I have in my head.

Thank you, Mr. Paulsen for being my special guest today! And for all of you readers, how would you like to win both of Gary's new books? Just complete the rafflecopter form below to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and announced May 23rd! You must be 18 years or older to enter. [Contest open internationally, though if the winner is not a U.S. resident, a $20 (US dollars) digital Amazon gift card will be awarded.]  

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  1. I hope to go on a real African safari adventure one day!

  2. I am hoping to take a hot air balloon ride!
    thank you

  3. Great interview from one of of my favorite authors. His true life adventure was truly scary. Keep up the superb story telling, Gary!

  4. This is just the kind of humor my great granddaughter loves. I have to check it out. Loved the interview. It is always interesting what launches a story in an author's mind -- "Watch out...don't step in the blood." Love it!

  5. I want to travel all around Ireland.