Thursday, April 11, 2002

Authors of Yesteryear, Part IV of VI

Without a doubt, Gordon Korman was my favourite young adult author. Since 1978, he has written a large quantity of humourous books, the most well-known being the Bruno and Boots series at MacDonald Hall. Korman's writing was clear and accessible, and his characters got caught up in genuinely funny situations and dialogue.

In fact, I Want to Go Home (1981) still holds the distinction for the only book that's ever made me laugh out loud multiple times. The book tells the story of Rudy Miller, a dry cynic who is forced to go to a summer camp. He spends the first half of the book trying to run away from camp (which is on an island), and when he finally does, he chalks up a point and returns to try again. I must have read that book at least a hundred times, but unfortunately the book ended up in a giant box full of books I donated to the public library right before college. It's not even in print anymore (like most of his best early works) so I guess it'll always just be a fond memory.

The Korman of the 80s wrote an even balance of books for elementary school kids and junior high kids, starting with This Can't Be Happening at McDonald Hall! in 1978. I got hooked on his books in fifth grade after the school's yearly Reading Is Fundamental fair, where we were allowed to take home one donated book for free. Every year before that, I'd get a book with mazes, or optical illusions, or something with the Berenstein Bears. Since fifth graders didn't go until later in the day my usual stash was picked clean, so I picked up a random book, Beware the Fish by Gordon Korman.

I didn't actually read it for another year, but after I did, I resolved to read each and every book by this author. Even at this time though (1987), many of his books were already out of print. I've still never read Bugs Potter LIVE at Nickaninny, and I only read Our Man Weston after permanently borrowing it from the junior high library. (If that raises your moral hackles, consider the fact that it had been checked out once in the ten years it was on the shelf, and that I still read it every year).

I enjoyed Korman's books so much that it's hard to pick out a favourite. Go Jump in the Pool and War with Mr. Wizzle were two good picks from the Bruno and Boots series, and the antics of Artie Geller in No Coins, Please were also a high point. In young adult books, Son of Interflux and Semester in the Life of an Eleventh-Grade Garbage Bag were both good. After 1992, I lost touch with his books and haven't read any new stories since then, although from the looks of his bibliography, he's focused mostly on series-based mainstream kids books like Nose Pickers from Outer Space. However, I still reread my collection of earlier books every summer. For more information on Gordon Korman, visit the official website .

Tomorrow: John D. Fitzgerald & Zilpha Keatley Snyder

A couple new pep band MP3s before the novelty wears off: Gyrations, the beat example (MP3, 721KB), and Redline Shuffle, which is obviously the shuffle chart (MP3, 721KB). If anyone knows of a marching band arranging gig, I'm there...

Congratulations to Mike Sitania for being the 3000th visitor to the URI! Domain on Wednesday. If I weren't so damned cheap he would get a massive cash prize, but instead he'll have to settle for the revenue from my banner ads.

Here's an April Fool's article on the new hit game, Pimps at Sea from the latest issue of PCGamer. If you follow computer games or game development at all, you'll get a kick out of it (JPG, 280KB).

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