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Hatchet Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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*A Newbery Honor Book
*An ALA Notable Book
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From the Inside Flap
On his way to visit his recently divorced father in the Canadian mountains, thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is the only survivor when the single-engine plane crashes. His body battered, his clothes in shreds, Brian must now stay alive in the boundless Canadian wilderness.
More than a survival story, Hathcet is a tale of tough decisions. When all is stripped down to the barest essentials, Brian discovers some stark and simple truths: Self-pity doesn't work. Despair doesn't work. And if Brian is to survive physically as well as mentally, he must discover courage.
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Feeling nostalgic, I decided to go ahead and pick this up to re-read it after all these years. It holds up decently as an adult but you really notice it's flaws.
My main complaint is that it ends so abruptly. I don't remember that, but the end of the books feels really rushed, like the author said, "Whoops, I'm going on too long here," and decided to wrap it up quickly. Not so noticeable as a young kid with a short attention span but pretty jarring when an adult. Still, this book was made for kids so it's excusable.
My 8 year old loved this story. It stimulated him to think about what he would do under those conditions. I've always enjoyed survival stories. This one is particularly well done as we are in Brian's head and hear what he's thinking, how he motivates himself to solve the problems he is facing. Brian has many setbacks but he thinks out the problems and comes up with a plan. I've already ordered the sequel, River.
The point is: What new thing can I say about such a book? The answer is probably nothing with the point being that Amazon allows each of its customers an individual voice, despite how many there might be.
As a children's librarian (including those middle school children), I know that "Hatchet" is a great recommended read for reluctant readers for whatever reasons. Why haven't I read this book, I continued to ask myself. So--this summer I asked my great-niece and -nephew, 12 and 10, if we could all read and discuss this book? All agreed, no one finished. Here's how the first couple of chapters go: Brian, aged 13, is flying to a remote area in Northern Canada to stay with his dad. Because the area is so remote, a private plane must be hired. That means one pilot, one passenger in a tiny two-seater. Then, as it so happens from time to time in the real world--out of nowhere, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a rush of panic, Brian takes over and flies the plane until fuel runs out. Then he must land. Therein lies the difficulty. With so many lakes and rivers in the Canadian wilderness, where he is, at that point and moment in space and time, reveals an unsatisfactory water bed, but he must land anyway. Water is like concrete to a flying object on impact. Brian hits his head and wrenches his whole body in the crash, but he makes it out and swims to shore in icy water.
Now that's an exciting beginning. Who wouldn't want to read further, but I didn't. Finally, when I discovered that none of us had finished the book, I picked it up again and continued reading. At exactly that point begins one incredible episode after the other in Brian's personal and up close experience with a life threatening adventure. A city boy, Brian knows nothing about survival skills or even simple camping. What resources he calls on are two: television programs and a teacher's mantra that each of us is the person to most rely on.
As an aside, Paulsen spent a few nights camping in his backyard, using stones and sticks to start a fire. Finally, his wife asked what in the world was he doing? (I think this is just a neat story to relate about the background for his book and not really true.) He replied, "Trying to start a fire." "Well, why don't you just use matches?" she asked. "I don't have any," he responded.
And neither did Brian, so the description of his efforts to start a fire ring true--because they are. In his two month sojourn (not intentional, mind you), Brian meets a bear, fool birds, chokeberries, a crazed elk, rabbits, a tornado, and a continuing incredible (but believable) array of obstacles and milestones and little victories.
Brian fully expected to be rescued within 24 hours until he remembered how off-course he probably flew the plane himself. Hours turned into days, days into weeks, and .... I wish I could comment on the ending because I have some things to say, but in whatever subtle way I said it, I would reveal spoilers. Allow me this: I had been right there with Brian the whole way. The ending stunned me. I mean it--I was stunned!
Because of the ending I began researching what else Paulsen had written, and discovered more Brian books. I cannot say anything about them either, but I've ordered them for my school library.
Now I know why I can recommend this book to reluctant readers--and of course, anyone who loves a good story!! Hatchet? Didn't I mention it? It's really not the hatchet that saves Brian for so long--it is Brian himself wielding the hatchet. This book is definitely a great read!
on the comment side one commented and mention the story of Brian in the 'hatchet', i got intrigue and look for the book in amazon. i found it and when i start reading it i can not put down the book, though i know it's fiction but the comment is true, a 13yo boy survive alone without anything except his hatchet. very nice story.