Gary Paulsen, the children’s author best known for “Hatchet” and other coming-of-age stories set in the wilderness, has died at age 82 Rip Gary Paulsen Classic T-Shirt.
Paulsen died “suddenly” Wednesday, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group representative Molly B. Ellis confirmed to USA TODAY.
“It was Paulsen’s overwhelming belief in young people that drove him to write,” read a remembrance provided to USA TODAY by Ellis. “His desire to tap deeply into the human spirit and encourage readers to observe and care about the world around them brought him both enormous popularity with young people and critical acclaim from the children’s book community.”
His most well-known book, “Hatchet” (1986), tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who must learn to survive on his own when a plane crash leaves him stranded in the wilderness with only a hatchet as a resource. It nabbed him one of his three Newbery Honor awards, which he also won for “The Winter Room” and “Dogsong.”
In all, he wrote more than 200 titles, mostly for young adults but a few targeted to adults. In 1997, the American Library Association awarded Paulsen the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature.
“I was sitting one night and I thought, ‘I have to be a writer,’ ” Paulsen recalled in a January interview with the American Writers Museum. “I’m not sure why that had to happen then. I’d come to read sometimes two books a day. I read all the time. I tell young people to read like a wolf eats. Just read until you can’t stand it. Hatchet Merch Gary Paulsen T-Shirt “