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Hatchet (original 1987; edition 2004)
by Gary Paulsen, Peter Coyote (Reader)
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1987)
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this was a good adventure and survival story but i really didn't like the way it was written. the repetition was frustrating for me, but this was still enjoyable overall. ( )
Newbery Medal Winner!
"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose we came from the woods originally. But in some of nature's forests, the adventurous traveler seems a feeble, unwelcome creature; wild beasts and the weather trying to kill him, the rank, tangled vegetation, armed with spears and stinging needles, barring his way and making life a hard struggle." - John Muir
The moment Brian is hit with skunk spray, I found myself thinking: "It wasn't that bad, was it?"
Maybe it was. I was a pre-teen messing around in the National Forest near our home in Colorado, and I walked home to an extended bath to remove the stink. Brian, on the other hand, was lost in the Canadian wilds and was pretty much in a fight for the first protein he had eaten in days. Perhaps it was a little different.
On the other hand, there was no doubt in my mind that the moose attack should have killed him. Kill him dead.
Reading Hatchet brought back memories, created new ones, and excited my imagination (and not just about getting sprayed by a skunk). A staple of middle school English class reading lists for decades, I picked it up again when my sixth-grader read it recently. J.K. Rowling may have made reading interesting to a new generation, but Paulsen is there when they turn to find another book, especially one that isn't rooted in a fantasy world. Instead, Paulsen delivers an adventure that is real and entirely believable. The wild where Brian finds himself, alone and lost, is foreign, uncaring, and hostile. It is a scary and marvelous place.
I asked Abby what her favorite and least favorite parts were and, perhaps conveying a bit more about her own age and values than about the book, she chose the moment Brian *spoiler* was saved and the scene when he tried to kill himself from despair *spoiler*, respectively. On the other hand, the moment that brought me the most emotion was in *spoiler* the moment that he swung the hatchet to cut through the fuselage of the plane, knowing all the while that he was about to lose the very tool that had allowed him to survive. Close to that in emotion was the pain I felt at the betrayal by his mother of their family, and the division it caused between her and Brian's father. But then, I am an adult, married, and partner in marriage myself. *spoiler*
Despite the emotions it at times invokes, Hatchett is a simply told story, even dull on occasion and perhaps that's what lets it soar as a novel. Instead of getting in the way of itself, the reader is able to become Brian, to set himself in Brian's increasingly tattered shoes, to find who he is when the wild is trying to kill him, all from the comfort of a warm, civilized home.
I LOVED this book - an exciting tale of adventure and survival.
I really enjoyed this book. Great survival story! A few grisly moments towards the end but all and all it was a great middle grade book. Kids could learn a lot from the experience of the protagonist. A major theme is to learn from your mistakes.
Belongs to Series
Brian's Saga (1)
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Has as a teacher's guide
After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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