Hatchet, Gary Paulsen

One minute trailer: Thirteen-year old Brian is visiting his dad hours away for the first time since his parents’ divorce. When the pilot has a heart attack, Brian lands (crashes?) the plane in the middle of Canadian wilderness. All he has is a hatchet,  the clothes on his back, and himself.

Is that enough to survive?

Bookworm’s Commentary

  • Yeah, I’m that tired. And the post won’t be much longer.
  • I started Hatchet with one of my classes (not all– for the most part, my other classes need more test review. And that’s okay. This class appreciates it already.)
  • They probably appreciate it already because it moves so fast. Chapter one, pilot has heart attack, and Brian’s alone.  It’s a painful scene to read.  I choked up when I read it  aloud.
  • Brian is extremely resourceful for a city boy. He has one friend that he played “survival” with in the park. He remembered words from a teacher: you’re your best resource.  He gets confidence from this, for good reason. If he thinks things through, he does fine.
  • He makes plenty of mistakes. He eats the wrong things. He gets hit by a moose. A skunk sprays him in the face while it steals his food. He realizes any of these mistakes could have eventually killed him, and it’s kind of incredible to think about.
  • He does cool things too, like make a shelf for his food, a “fish cage” in the lake, and all sorts of cool things.
  • As one of my students said (and I agreed full-heartedly) “If that happened to me, I would die.” Yep.
  • Brian is also dealing with “the secret” that broke his mom and dad up. Traumatic for a kid. There’s one point when he thinks of his mom watching the news about kids starving in Asia. I’m thinking, don’t you think she’d be worried about you? You’ve been gone weeks, kid! She knows you didn’t make it to your dad’s!

Class stuff:

I’ve had a ton of teacher friends tell me that they’ve had students doing projects on this book in 4th? 5th grade? I’d say any “intermediate grade.”

Grade: A. There’s a reason this book is much beloved.  It is a tale of ultimate survival. It moves fast, it’s exciting, it has scary moments.  Boys love it. There are sequels, so it’s great for the reluctant reader.

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