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.
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 DeCandidoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved