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Dancing Carl

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From three-time Newbery Honor author Gary Paulsen comes a moving middle grade novel about four strangers fighting for the life they want.

In the winter, life in McKinley, Minnesota, revolves around the rinks, where kids play hockey and grown-ups skate to scratchy phonograph records. Then, the year Marsh and his best friend, Willy, are twelve, Carl appears at the rink, wearing a battered, old leather flight jacket and doing a strange dance that is both beautiful and disturbing to watch.

It is Marsh and Willy who discover the terrible secret behind Carl’s dance, a secret that threatens to destroy him. But a small miracle occurs, and Carl’s dance becomes a fragile and tentative expression of hope and the healing power of love.

Photo by Ruth Wright Paulsen

Gary Paulsen (1931–2021) was one of the most honored writers of contemporary literature for young readers, author of three Newbery Honor titles, Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room. He wrote over 100 books for adults and young readers. 

"Filled with poetry and with life...an insightful beautifully written story."

-- Horn Book

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