In between reading the Blue Zone book by Dan Buettner, I also managed to slip in this book over the last few weeks. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen.
This is a great book for middle grade boys, but I think anyone of any age would enjoy it. It kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering, what would happen next to thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson after he survives a plane crash in the wilderness of Canada. As a city boy, he has to learn how to survive alone, with knowledge from movies and pretend survival techniques he and his friend Terry had experimented with in their city park. (p.59)
The only tool that made it out of the crash with him, was a hatchet, given to him by his mom, and strapped onto his belt.
His first order of business was finding food. The first berries he found made quite an impression on him and his stomach. Later he found raspberries. At least it was a food he knew.
After encountering a bear in the area, his next order of business was a safe shelter. Even with a shelter he had to deal with mosquitoes, black flies, and a porcupine. Fire became a huge priority to counter those invaders and after a dream involving his dad and friend Terry, he remembered the spark that flew off a nearby rock when his hatchet hit it in an attempt to drive the porcupine away. After many attempts that failed, he finally figured out what he needed and fire was his next precious commodity.
Although he learned to eat turtle eggs, catch fish, and made a spear, along with bow and arrows to shoot birds, he was always hungry. The author says, “…he had learned the most important thing, the truly vital knowledge that drives all creatures in the forest—food is all….To eat. All must eat.” (p. 131)
In this version of the book, the author inserts clips of his life when he lived through similar circumstances in the wilderness. One of my favorite encounters for Brian was when he was attacked by a moose. The ensuing description was so well written, I felt like I was being attacked as I read it.
On page 151 the author says, “The description of the attack is as clear and accurate as I can recall my own first up-close-and-personal meeting with a moose.” He also explains, “they’re psychologically unbalanced—sometimes they attack for what feels like years, other times they lose interest mid-charge and wander off.”
I will let you read the book to discover the ending. They made a movie about the book called, A Cry In The Wild, in 1990. It is rated PG. I personally like the book much better.
I highly recommend this book. It is a very clean read. It is a coming of age for Brian. It is full of action, adventure, and resourcefulness.
I would like to add a couple of issues that I noted that could be used as talking points to teach Biblical truths.
The book deals with the issue of separation and divorce, when parents do the wrong things. It shows the devastation this caused in Brian’s life. This may create some talking points as needed, based on circumstances your child might face in a lifetime, whether it be personal or with friends.
Another thing that I think is important for parents that believe in the Creation account as written in the book of Genesis, there is one sentence that states, “There had been fire for thousands, millions of years.” (p. 91) Most Creationists agree the earth is close to 6,000 years old, not millions. You could easily use this for a talking point to teach your children the truths of the Genesis account of creation.
As parents and grand-parents, we need to be aware of teachings that go against God’s Word and educate ourselves to refute it. But you don’t have to throw out a well-written story with the bath water. Use it to educate.
If you have read, Hatchet, let us know your favorite part in the comments below. Have you ever camped out and encountered strange foods or animals? Please comment below:)