With Christmas coming up, many people look for what books to get the kids in their life, something to spark interest in the wonderful world of reading. The journey of the written word can now begin.
When I was a young lad, I discovered an amazing writer who engaged my young mind and pushed me into a lifelong love of books.
I would like you to meet Gordon Korman.
Gordon’s story starts when, in the late 1970’s, he wrote his first novel for a class project. He was 12 years old and in grade 7. Multiple more books were completed and published before he finished high school. Canada’s newest author had launched his career and stirred the imagination of millions of kids worldwide.
My story starts when, in the early 1980’s, I found his first novel in my local library. I was about 10 years old and in grade 4. Many more stories of his were devoured by me through out junior, middle, and high school. Gordon had helped awaken my love of reading and I joined a fraternity of fans worldwide.
Gordon’s first book, the one that started the journey for both of us, was This Can’t Be Happening At MacDonald Hall. In this story we meet Bruno and Boots, two mischievous young lads who reside at the private school called MacDonald Hall. And they constantly are pulling pranks, getting into trouble, and giving their Headmaster Mr. Sturgeon, a colossal headache. So he separates them to different rooms, much to their distress. The plotting and planning begins in earnest, how do they get The Fish (the headmasters nickname) to put the two back together. Scheme after hilarious scheme blow up, causing more problems for our dynamic duo. Will they ever be roomies again?
Bruno and Boots continued on their merry way into several stories, including Beware The Fish, The War With Mr. Wizzle and many more. Along the way they are helped by the girls across the road at Ms. Scrimmages school, who are confidants and provide ready help for whatever problems the boys are facing. As each book was discovered by me, I would stay up late, with a flashlight under the covers, to the wee hours. I quickly found out candles were not a good idea in this situation.
Other series came out by Gordon, and each one enraptured me. Music fans could read and laugh to the antics in Who Is Bugs Potter?, followed by Bugs Potter, Live at Nickaninny. The insane names of the bands that Bugs was a fan of were wildly inventive, and not far off reality.
Various individual novels also came out during this time. Spy fans could be thrilled while laughing with Our Man Weston. Anyone who hates traveling can relate to No Coins, Please. Baseball fans can cheer all through The Toilet Paper Tigers (one of my favourites). All great and fun reads for the 9-12 set.
After high school, Gordon went off to University in New York to refine his writing craft. At this point, several novels came out aimed at the slightly older reader. Complexity of plot, characters, and theme began popping up a whole lot more. Son of Interflux is my top pick from the start of this era. A father and son on opposing ends of a corporate battle, all set against a high school. Losing Joe’s Place tells us about one hilarious, yet disastrous summer in the life of three friends in the big city, all told to us in flashbacks. I greatly liked and admired Gordon growing his skills and style with these titles. You can feel him growing and changing, just like I was.
During this time, the impossible happened. We met.
During my grade eight year, I found out Gordon was coming to my middle school. Entering stalker mode, I grabbed my camera and film (yes, I am that old) and hauled all my books with me to school. I awaited him at the school entrance, before being noticed by the teacher involved in the event. She then did the incredible.
She made me the official photographer for the visit.
Besides meeting my wife, this became one of the finest moments of my life. All afternoon, from his entrance to his exit, I was beside him. Snapping pictures, asking him endless questions, getting him water (I think he wanted a breather from me, I wonder why?) all become my reality for those joyful hours. Restraining orders were invented for people like me that day.
Over the years Gordon took a small break from writing, then came back, right on form. I continued with reading him all along, through college and after. I even saw him again at a local bookstore signing, but I was a lot less obsessed. With age came maturity (that sound you hear is my wife laughing) and I was more a gentleman than a rabid fanboy. Unfortunately, time became more scarce shortly hereafter, and I fell sorely behind with his output.
Kids books of all types come out of Gordon these days. He varies from 9-12 to teens to older teens (more mature) to mini-series. He has also contributed to The 39 Clues mystery thrillers. And these new series seem very intriguing, one was even made into the Disney Channel show The Jersey. Every time a new title from him premieres, I am tempted to begin again this journey. On my bucket list is to someday catch up with Gordon and his characters antics. What have Bruno and Boots been up to? I want to know.
Maybe this Christmas Santa will bring me some of the books Gordon has done over these years. And one night, while nestled in my jammies, maybe even using a flashlight, I will start catching up with my old friend.
And if you have young readers in your life, and they want a new journey of excitement and wonder and laughs, consider having Santa deliver some Gordon Korman books for them. Start at the beginning with Bruno and Boots. Just like I did.
They will love it. And get them a flashlight too.
P.S. All books are copyright 2011 to Gordon Korman. All Covers copyright 2011 to Scholastic Book Services.