In Trouble Gary Paulsen Essay

Kevin is a master liar. He is only telling people what they want to hear—providing a community service, so to speak. His homework is done, he thinks you look great and yes, he understands that 12-step math equation. It’s just good manners to gloss over the truth to make people happy, and sometimes telling a little lie helps Kevin out, too.

It’s not his intention for Katie to do all the work on their school project by telling her he has a rare disease, but she does offer. He doesn’t mean to send JonPaul into a near crippling state of hypochondria with his fabricated blackout story; he just wants JonPaul to go home.

Things get way out of hand when 14-year-old Kevin falls in love with Tina. Kevin’s falsehoods are aimed at persuading her that he is perfect boyfriend material. Casually convincing his teachers that his presence is desperately needed elsewhere for drama club, student council, wrestling team management and student paper, his lies take on a dizzying tornado effect.

It gets so twisted and wild that Kevin may have to resort to actually telling the truth.

Liar, Liar is a laugh-out-loud tale of teenage angst from beloved and prolific author Gary Paulsen. Familiar topics of crushes, financial trouble and family dynamics are nicely woven into the story, and Paulsen’s characters are as personable and believable as ever. Young readers will enjoy the conversational tone of the book while parents will appreciate the moral message. And that’s no lie.


Woodsong Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

Author Gary Paulsen, especially well-known for the young adult book Hatchet, uses Woodsong to communicate various stories about Paulsen's experiences with animals in the woods in Alaska over the ten or so year period where he trapped animals and ran dog sleds. The main themes of the book focus on the beauty of nature, both animate and inanimate. But it is especially focused on the beauty, depth and complexity of animal life and about how Paulsen came to appreciate the importance of treating animals with dignity and respect. The book runs the emotional gamut, from times of exaltation and joy to experiences of pain, despair and terror. Paulsen is often unusually lucid and at other times bogged down with injury and hallucination. But throughout the book, Paulsen's animals are always around, and his dogs in particular are always available to help.

Woodsong is divided into two parts. Part I, Running, is a collection of eight essays about Paulsen's experiences with animals. Chapter 1 impresses upon the reader that nature truly is shocking and often horrifying in its cruelty. This is especially true of interactions between predator and prey. Paulsen's description of a doe being ripped apart by wolves before his very eyes is meant to shock the reader into conceiving of nature in a different way. Chapters 2 and 3 introduce the reader to Paulsen's most beloved animals, his sledding dogs, many of whom had unique and endearing personalities and whose emotional complexities convinced Paulsen that he could no longer trap or kill animals outside of extreme necessity.

Chapter 4 focuses on Paulsen's explanation of the deepest difference between humans and animals - the use of controlled fire. It takes the reader through a number of conflicts between Paulsen, fire and animals. Chapter 5 tells the brief story of a banty hen named Hawk who exhibited an unusual, fierce altruism in protecting chicks that we not her own. Chapter 6 explains the deep mysteries of the woods in a series of short tales. But chapters seven and eight return to Paulsen's deep, emotionally connected experiences with his sledding team. These build up to Part II.

Part II, The Race, is the tale of Paulsen's seventeen day trip in the Iditarod race, a race of dog sledders along a thousand mile trail from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. The race combines many of the insights that Paulsen discusses in Part I and exhibits a huge range of emotional feelings and insights that Paulsen had into himself and his dogs. He completes the race but not without incredibly frightening conflicts and near-death experiences. His experience is so profound that he promises to do what he never imagined - running the race again.

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