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How Angel Peterson Got His Name Hardcover – January 14, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Paulsen accounts for his 13th year "of wonderful madness" when he and his friends tried to shoot a waterfall in a barrel, break the world record for speed on skis, hang glide with an Army surplus parachute, and perform other daredevilish stunts. Readers will be drawn to the term "extreme sports" but the story is more accurately one generation's version of homemade fun in the days following the Korean War when "radio was king" and the great outdoors served as the playground. Like much of his autobiographical fiction, these sketches are more episodic than plot driven. Paulsen exhibits a wry sense of humor and storytelling ability as if he were sitting on a country porch with eager listeners at his knee. In one chapter, a friend borrowed a quarter to wrestle a bear at the carnival to get the attention of a girl, only to be swept out of the ring by a giant paw, like "a hockey puck with legs." The stories are fresh and lively and will especially appeal to reluctant middle-grade readers.
Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Every boy who is 13 or about to be 13 or who remembers being 13 should read this short story collection based on people and events from Paulsen's own life. Even though the action takes place 50 or so years ago, they will recognize themselves. And every girl who has ever liked a 13-year-old-boy, or been related to one, or wondered about one, should read this, too, because although the book doesn't explain why boys like to do things like pee on electric fences, it does give an insight into how their funny little minds work. Writing with humor and sensitivity, Paulsen shows boys moving into adolescence believing they can do anything: wrestle with bears; shoot waterfalls in a barrel; fly eight-by-twelve-foot Army surplus kites--and hang on, even as they land in the chicken coop. None of them dies (amazingly), and even if Paulsen exaggerates the teensiest bit, his tales are side-splittingly funny and more than a little frightening. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1180L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; First Edition edition (January 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385729499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385729499
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,222,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Paulsen is one of the most honored writers of contemporary literature for young readers. He has written more than one hundred book for adults and young readers, and is the author of three Newberry Honor titles: Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room. He divides his time among Alaska, New Mexico, Minnesota, and the Pacific.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

(What's this?)
#42 in Books > Teens
#42 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A quick, fun read. Perfect for those reluctant boy readers, as Paulsen shares some of his friends' daredevil escapades of growing up. I laughed out loud when he shared his first date to Harris's (his cousin from Harris and Me) "bungee" jumping.
Full of voice and action. It would be a great read aloud in a middle school classroom...but have your boys sign waivers that they won't try the "sports" at home. :)
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Format: Hardcover
I was laughing so hard that I woke up Shari AND both dogs!
A longtime friend of mine, who works as our school's counselor--and who gets to borrow the books that I write about--has occasionally asked me very sweetly whether I could find more funny books for our students. J.T., this one's for you!
"We built countless ramps with old boards laid on barrels or boxes, at the bottom of a hill if possible, and we would try to jump over things with our bikes.
"Remember, these were one-speed fat-tired bikes with a crowned-up, castrating brace bar and the things we tried to jump were fences, wooden walls, barrels, bikes, each other. On one memorable occasion Alan--after carefully calculating distances and angles--tried to jump his stepfather's Ford coupe end to end. He didn't...quite...make it and left a face print on the windshield of the car, but that might have been because he was distracted by the scream when his mother came out just as we finished the ramp and Alan made his jump..."
Now, I can remember some of the "really neat stuff" we did when I was young: There was a telephone cable hanging from a wooden utility pole in this vacant lot filled with mounds of dirt left over from digging foundations in he neighborhood. It made for great swinging (à la George of the Jungle) until Jimmy Dean got a concussion by swinging straight into the pole. There was "skitching" --kids in Beatle boots grabbing onto the back bumper of any car that was cruising through the snow-slickened parking lot behind Modell's. I can also recall the thrill of aiming our banana bikes full speed over the edge and down the big drop-off at Sunshine Acres Park.
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A Kid's Review on January 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Have you ever wanted to set a world record? Have you ever wanted to do something crazy? The characters in Gary Paulsen's How Angel Peterson got his Name do just that. At the age of 13, Paulsen and his friends break the world record on skis, wrestle with a bear, jump through a hoop of fire, and more.

The characters in the book have the same mind as young adult. It is a good choice for boys and some girls ages 11- 15 because they can relate to Gary Paulsen and his friends. This book is action packed and the fun never stops. Gary wants to tell his friends not to do the amazing stunts that they do because they might get hurt but he has the curiosity to keep his mouth shut. He wonders what will happen to Angel while breaking the record, what will happen to Orvis when he wrestles the bear?

Breaking the world record of 74 miles an hour on skis isn't easy, especially when you live where there aren't any hills. Another thing, there wasn't safety gear. The trouble starts when they pass the record at 82 miles an hour. They hit a place with out snow and Angel flies off his skies. Later he told his friends that he heard the Angels sing. They were singing "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams."

Orvis Orvison wasn't very popular and was always being beaten up at school. He also couldn't talk to girls. So he got the girls' attention by showing off. Whenever there were girls around he would always be two feet higher or jump five feet farther then his friends. At the carnival he saw a sign that said wrestle with a bear for one minute win $25. Orvis saw some girls and got in the ring with the bear.

A New York Times Best Seller and a 2004 winner for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Paulsen's memoir about his childhood is not to be missed by middle school readers who want to read a book that will put a smile on their face. Teen readers will be able to find similarities between themselves and the characters in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
It's the 1950's and Gary Paulsen and his friends are 13 years old. For whatever reasons, they chose this year to be the year of "extreme sports"-Paulsen's term for the outrageous dares they took.
These days, extreme sports refers to organized teams and individuals who participate in sport activities that involve rules, certified equipment, and lots of padding and head gear. For Paulsen and his buddies, the equipment was usually purchased at the army surplus store and converted to fit their needs. Their padding and head gear? Didn't exist.
They jumped off of things, help onto things, went fast, went high, broke records, turned, twisted, and rolled along all in the name of "What's the worst that can happen?"
Just one page into this autobiographical sketch of life at thirteen, the reader can perfectly imagine the northern Minnesota town in which Paulsen grew up and can picture the adventurous, comical moments that made up this crazy year of his life. The dialogue brings to mind so many young adolescent boys, all trying to fit in another ten minutes of fun before their parents call them to dinner.
These stories are laugh-aloud fun, and they make the reader want to go out and put some wheels on something!
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