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Gordon Korman (1963–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

(Gordon Richard Korman)


Born 1963, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Education: New York University, B.F.A., 1985.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Scholastic, Inc., 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.


Writer, 1975–.


Writers Union of Canada, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Society of Children's Book Writers.



This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!, illustrated by Affie Mohammed, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1977.

Go Jump in the Pool!, illustrated by Lea Daniel, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1979.

Beware the Fish!, illustrated by Lea Daniel, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980, reprinted, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

The War with Mr. Wizzle, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982, published as The Wizzle War, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

The Zucchini Warriors, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991, published as Lights, Camera, Disaster!, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995, published as The Joke's on Us, Scholastic Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.


Quarterback Exchange: I Was John Elway, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

Running Back Conversion: I Was Barry Sanders, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

The Super Bowl Switch: I Was Dan Marino, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

Heavy Artillery: I Was Junior Seau, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

Ultimate Scoring Machine: I Was Jerry Rice, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

(With James Buckley, Jr. and Brian C. Peterson) NFL Rules: Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.


Nose Pickers from Outer Space!, illustrated by Victor Vaccaro, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.

Planet of the Nose Pickers, illustrated by Victor Vaccaro, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker, illustrated by Victor Vaccaro, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Invasion of the Nose Pickers, illustrated by Victor Vaccaro, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Ultimate Nose-Picker Collection, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.


Stars from Mars, Scholastic (New York, NY),1999.

All-Mars All-Stars, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Face-Off Phony, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.

Cup Crazy, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.


Shipwreck, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Survival, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Escape, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Island Trilogy (contains Shipwreck, Survival, and Escape), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.


The Discovery, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

The Deep, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

The Danger, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.


Chasing the Falconers, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

The Fugitive Factor, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Now You See Them, Now You Don't, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

The Stowaway Solution, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Public Enemies, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Hunting the Hunter, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.


Who Is Bugs Potter?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.

I Want to Go Home!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1981, reprinted, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Our Man Weston, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.

Bugs Potter: Live at Nickaninny, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1983.

No Coins, Please, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984, reprinted, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Don't Care High, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.

Son of Interflux, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.

A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.

Radio Fifth Grade, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Losing Joe's Place, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Bernice Korman) The D-minus Poems of Jeremy Bloom, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

The Twinkie Squad, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

The Chicken Doesn't Skate, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolflt, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Sixth-Grade Nickname Game, Scholastic Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

No More Dead Dogs, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Son of the Mob, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Jake Reinvented, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Born to Rock, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

Short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines, including From One Experience to Another, edited by Dr. M. Jerry Wiess and Helen S. Weiss, 1997; Connections, edited by Donald R. Gallo, 1989, and SCOPE magazine. Creative developer, "Mad Science" series.

Korman's books have been translated into French, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Chinese.


The "Monday Night Football Club" series has been adapted for the Disney Channel TV series, The Jersey.

Work in Progress

"Kidnapped," a trilogy featuring the "On the Run" characters Aiden and Meg; Schooled, a YA novel.


Since publishing his first book when he was only fourteen years old, Canadian author Gordon Korman has written dozens of novels for children and young adults. Korman's trademark storylines—featuring slapstick humor, madcap adventures, and high-spirited, rebellious characters—have helped make him a favorite author of school-age readers—particularly boys—across Canada and the United States. The novels in Korman's "Bruno & Boots" series "revolve around the frustrations of rambunctious boys forced to submit to stuffy academic authorities," noted Leslie Bennetts in the New York Times, and feature two recurring characters "who are roommates, best friends and incorrigible troublemakers." Korman, whose books have sold millions of copies, strives to write stories that provide a healthy dose of humor for his young readers. "My books are the kind of stories I wanted to read and couldn't find when I was ten, eleven, and twelve," he once remarked. "I think that, no matter what the subject matter, kids' concerns are important, and being a kid isn't just waiting out the time between birth and the age of majority. I hope other kids see that in my work." Other book series by Korman include "Slap Shots," "Nose Pickers," and "On the Run."

Korman was born in 1963 in Montreal, Quebec, where his father worked as an accountant and his mother wrote an "Erma Bombeck-type column" for a local newspaper, as he told Bennetts. In elementary and middle school Korman was always fond of writing—especially his own brand of zany stories and scenarios. "I wasn't a big reader for some reason," he remarked to Chris Ferns in Canadian Children's Literature. "But I always tried to put in creativity where I could: if we had (to write) a sentence with all the spelling words for that week, I would try to come up with the stupidest sentences, or the funniest sentences, or the craziest sentences I could think of."

Korman's writing career began at the age of twelve with a story assignment for his seventh-grade English class. "The big movies at the time were 'Jaws' and 'Airplane," and everyone decided they were going to write action stories," he told Bennetts. "It was my mother who brought me down to earth. She told me to write about something a little closer to home." Korman created the characters Boots and Bruno, whose escapades create havoc in their small private school, Macdonald Hall. "I got kind of carried away … and I accidentally wrote the first book," he told Ferns. "The characters sort of became real people to me, and they more or less wrote the book for me. The class had to read all the assignments at the end of the whole business, and a lot of people were coming to me and saying how they really liked it. I suppose anyone who writes 120 pages for class is going to attract a certain amount of attention anyway—and I just got the idea of seeing if I could get the book published." Korman sent his manuscript to the publisher Scholastic Canada, and two years later, at the age of fourteen, witnessed the publication of both his first book and first best seller, This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!.

After his initial success, Korman published books at the rate of one per year, writing them during summers when he was on vacation from school. At age eighteen he was voted the Most Promising Writer under Thirty-five by the Canadian Author's Association, and he became a popular author on school and reading tours across Canada and the United States. Adding six more titles to his "Bruno and Boots" series, he has also created several other popular series, including "Monday Night Football Club," "Slapshots," and the "Island" trilogy.

Korman has also created memorable characters in humorous standalone novels: Bugs Potter, a rock-and-roll drummer who lives for his music, is the star of Bugs Potter: Live at Nickaninny; Simon Irving, the hero of Son of Interflux, organizes a middle-school campaign to save school land from being purchased by his father's
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corporation; Artie, in No Coins, Please, pulls off scams for money whenever his summer-camp group visits the city; and an eleven year old on the fast-track to a career as a stand-up comic is the focus of Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America. While Korman's characters display a healthy disrespect for authority, part of their wider appeal is that they respect the line between disrespect and anarchy. "I was writing at the time of 'Animal House,' and things like that," he explained to Ferns. "I think one of the things which makes the books fairly strong, so that they defy being compared to things like that, is that they don't cross that line. Considering how crazy the books are, I keep a firm foot in reality."

Zany humor is a staple in most of Korman's work, as seen in his "Nose Pickers" series. These books feature residents of the planet Pan. The Pants, as they are called, have developed sophisticated digitally activated computer systems implanted in their noses—which serve as the basis for much gross-out humor. Booklist reviewer Karen Hutt found Nose Pickers from Outer Space! filled with "slapstick humor" and "frenzied action." A Publishers Weekly contributor enjoyed the book's "fast-fire … wordplay and amusingly preposterous plot," and commended it as a "light and silly caper that will … bring on ample laughs."

Serious challenges and a more serious tone imbue the books in Korman's "Island" trilogy, an adventure series. In these novels, six troubled teenagers are enrolled in an Outward Bound-type program that requires them to spend a few weeks at sea together in a small sailboat. The titles of the novels—Shipwreck, Survival, and Escape—suggest the adventures that await this unusual crew as they deal with treacherous weather, the death of their captain, and other serious challenges.

Chasing the Falconers is the first volume in Korman's "On the Run" series, which focuses on a brother and sister who find themselves pursued by FBI agents after their psychologist parents are apprehended and accused of being spies. Escaping from a juvenile detention facility during a fire, Aiden and Meg Falconer make the journey from Nebraska to Vermont, hoping to track down a man they know only as "Uncle Frank," who they believe will help them prove their parents' innocence. The series continues in The Fugitive Factor. Calling the novel "fast-paced" and "action-packed," School Library Journal reviewer Connie Tyrrell Burns wrote that Chasing the Falconers is "appropriate for reluctant readers and those addicted to television action shows." As Korman noted on his home page, the tension in the projected six-part series comes from the fact that "when you're a fugitive, the entire world becomes dangerous for you. In a way, it's scarier than an eighteen-foot shark."

In addition to humor and fast pace, Korman attributes one reason for his books' popularity to the fact that he portrays characters achieving power and success in an adult world. "Whatever an adult can do, somewhere in the world there's one sixteen year old who can do it as well," he commented to Ferns. "The problem is with the age level where kids are starting to be able to do things, but it still seems unnatural. And I think that's one of the reasons why books do well in that age bracket, which they're not really supposed to because of their presentation—because they address that situation of kids being able to triumph over the adults, and in many cases with the adults coming to terms with it."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 10, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.

Children's Literature Review, Volume 25, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991.

St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, edited by Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Booklist, November 15, 1996, Bill Ott, review of The Chicken Doesn't Skate, p. 588; October 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Sixth-Grade Nickname Game, p. 422; August 19, 1999, Karen Hutt, review of Nose Pickers from Outer Space!, p. 2058.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1985; December, 1985; November, 1986; November, 1992, p. 77; November, 1998, Janice M. Del Negro, review of The Sixth-Grade Nickname Game, p. 103.

Canadian Children's Literature, number 38, 1985, Chris Ferns, interview with Korman, pp. 54-65; number 52, 1988, Chris Ferns, "Escape from New Jersey," pp. 63-64.

Canadian Statesman, January 23, 1980.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 28, 1980; November 18, 1980; October 19, 1985; December 2, 1989.

Horn Book, March-April, 1986; November-December, 1987; November-December 1997, Nancy C. Hammond, review of Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!, p. 724.

Jam, spring, 1981.

Journal of Commonwealth Literature, February, 1982.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1997, p. 876.

New York Times, July 24, 1985, Leslie Bennetts, "Gordon Korman: Old-Pro Author of 10 Books at 21," section 3, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, June 30, 1989, review of Radio Fifth Grade, p. 106; March 15, 1991, review of Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood, p. 59; July 26, 1993, review of The Toilet Paper Tigers, p. 73; August 2, 1999, review of Nose Pickers from Outer Space!, p. 85; June 16, 2003, review of Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America, p. 71.

Quill & Quire, November, 1983, Peter Carver, "From the Gripping Yarn to the Gaping Yawn," p. 24; October, 1994, Phyllis Simon, review of Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road?, p. 44; August, 1995, Dave Jenkinson, review of Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall, p. 34; January, 1999, Sheree Haughian, review of The Sixth-Grade Nickname Game, p. 46.

School Library Journal, September, 1989, Todd Morning, review of Radio Fifth Grade, p. 252; May, 1990, Jack Forman, review of Losing Joe's Place, p. 124; January, 1995, Suzanne Hawley, review of Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road?, p. 108; September, 1995, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall, p. 202; November, 1996, Burns, review of The Chicken Doesn't Skate, pp. 107-108; September 1997, Robin L. Gibson, review of Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!, p. 724; January, 2000, Elaine E. Knight, review of Nose Pickers from Outer Space!, p. 106; April, 2001, Anne Connor, review of Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker, p. 114; June, 2005, Steven Engelfried, review of No More Dead Dogs, p. 57; August, 2005, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of Chasing the Falconers, p. 129.

Toronto Star, July 29, 1978; December 14, 1982.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1990, Shirley Carmony, review of Losing Joe's Place, p. 106; December, 1992, Patsy H. Adams, review of The Twinkie Squad, p. 281.


Gordon Korman Home Page, http://www.gordonkorman.com (January 3, 2006).

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