Masters of Disaster

by Gary Paulson

Wendy Lamb Books, August 9, 2011.
Hardcover, 102 pages.
ISBN: 0375866108
Ages 8-12

Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulson

Worried teachers, troubled librarians and concerned parents of boys who don't like to read are looking for books that will cure this all too common problem. Articles recently printed bemoan the fact that we lose boys as readers as they approach middle school. Experts have noted that most books written for this age group are ignoring the irritating fact that boys of this age are going through a stage in which anything relating to basic human functions carried on in the bathrooms of schools and homes are the absolutely most hilarious things that ever happen to anyone. Adults groan as boys find humor in bodily functions that most of us would like to forget about as soon as the kids are safely out of training pants.

Gary Paulson, author of a long list of fine literature for young people, has stepped up to the challenge and written a book that any fifth grade boy will love, and any adventurous adult reader will find amusing. One is reminded of those engrossing books that earlier generations enjoyed, such as Peck's Bad Boy, Booth Tarkingtons's Penrod books and Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.

Masters of Disaster will never be described as great literature. However, it will be the cause of grateful parents smiling to themselves as their reluctant reader plows through the misadventures of Henry Mosley, who comes up with elaborate plans written in great detail on his legal pad, super organized, resourceful Riley Dolen and the unfortunate, accident-prone Reed Hamner. In desperate acts of organized disasters the three friends risk life and limbs to become noticed by society, and girls. The three unfortunate heroes plan their escapades in great detail but with little knowledge of risk, and the ridiculous circumstances in which they find themselves never discourage them. Why Riley Dolen has an innate propensity for landing headlong into all types of filth remains a mystery to him and his mother, who spends a great deal of time marching Riley into the shower, and his clothes to the laundry room. Finally, he is exiled to the family garage so that the rest of his family can breathe without being offended.

Worried teachers, troubled librarians and concerned parents will wait full of hope that after their reluctant scholar has giggled through the misadventures of the three boys, he will find the fine literature for children that Gary Paulson has written. such as the Winter Room, Hatchet, and Dogsong, all Newberry Award books.

--Sarah Reaves White

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