Dancing Carl, Gary Paulsen’s first novel, was a ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a Notable Children’s Trade Book for the Language Arts.
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.