May be appropriate for ages 12 ‒ 16(and up)
First published in: 1987
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This Newbery Honor book is a dramatic, heart-stopping story of a boy who, following a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his own wits.- From Publishers Weekly
Brian Robeson, 13, is the only passenger on a small plane flying him to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane drifts off course and finally crashes into a small lake. Miraculously Brian is able to swim free of the plane, arriving on a sandy tree-lined shore with only his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. The novel chronicles in gritty detail Brian's mistakes, setbacks, and small triumphs as, with the help of the hatchet, he manages to survive the 54 days alone in the wilderness. Paulsen effectively shows readers how Brian learns patienceto watch, listen, and think before he acts as he attempts to build a fire, to fish and hunt, and to make his home under a rock overhang safe and comfortable. An epilogue discussing the lasting effects of Brian's stay in the wilderness and his dim chance of survival had winter come upon him before rescue adds credibility to the story. Paulsen tells a fine adventure story, but the sub-plot concerning Brian's preoccupation with his parents' divorce seems a bit forced and detracts from the book. As he did in Dogsong (Bradbury, 1985), Paulsen emphasizes character growth through a careful balancing of specific details of survival with the protagonist's thoughts and emotions.- Barbara Chatton
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.