Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen


“You want me to drive off the roof of a house and bounce on a diving board with a bicycle?”  Reed had stopped walking. “That’s what you’re after here?”

“Of course,” Henry said, “because just riding off the roof would be stupid….”  pages 16-17

Henry, Reed, and Riley have decided they need to DO something to make themselves stand out, whether it’s setting a world record, solving a mystery, being cowboys, or running a dogsled in Memorial Day parade!  Henry is the idea man, cleverly assigning the worst of the duties to Reed, who inadvertently becomes the stuntman of the group.  Riley is the brains, who is prepared for just about any situation, and who documents each adventure for their proof.

Poor, poor Reed.  I won’t say much more than that!

This book was really silly, like “No way!” silly, but I loved it.  Why? Because it was about kids going out to PLAY, with no electronics, with just their IMAGINATIONS to guide them.  (Okay, there is one reference to a computer, but Riley used it to apply for a scholarship, so I’ll allow it.  See, they even had time for school during all of their madness!)  These kids TALKED to each other, sketched out their crazy plans in a notebook, and then went OUTSIDE to attempt getting famous, doing the kind of stuff that “Brings People Fame and Fortune.”

Parental involvement is minimal in this book, otherwise the boys would have been grounded immediately after their first stunt.  The boys do have a great sense of friendship, and even poor, poor Reed keeps up a positive attitude when he’s been banished to the basement due to the horrible stench he has picked up…not to mention the rash, the scabs, the possible rabies, etc.  Now I’ve said too much!

This book is short and quick at 102 pages.  Read it if you like to laugh, if you have a couple of crazy best friends, and definitely read it if you’ve read anything else by Gary Paulsen.  He wrote Hatchet and a million* other books, and if you’re a sixth grader I’ll bet there’s a Gary Paulsen story in your language arts book, too! He was a very popular author in my class this year.  At any rate, just read it because it’s funny!  Masters of Disaster has an AR level of 6.5 and is worth 3 points.

*Okay, not a million, but a lot.  I didn’t know he was so funny, so I’ll have to hit the library to get the Lawn Boy books next.  I have the first one in my classroom, but it didn’t make it home with me for the summer, which is surprising when I look at how tall my to-read pile is for vacation! What’s on your to-read list?


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