My second grade teacher read Hatchet to our class and while I didn’t truly discover the joy of reading until the next year, it stuck with me. To me, there has always been something very real about this book.
Series: Brian’s Saga; Book 1
Author: Gary Paulsen
ROTS Setting: CU, Survival, Canada, Beaver, Moose, Awesomeness
Synopsis: Brian is on his way to visit his dad in the oil fields of Northern Canada. When the bush pilot has a heart attack, Brian is left with alone flying above untouched wilderness. Follow Brian has he discovers the wonders and dangers still present in the far reaches of our world.
Recommendation: This a great book for younger readers, however divorce, infidelity, and death are present. I think these elements are handled very well and are more of a positive than a negative.
The book is a very easy read and it’s short. Took me only about 6 hours to read it and that was with a toddler crawling all over me. Despite that it manages to leave a significant impression.
Brian is and interesting character and while you don’t get to know him much from before the book begins, you do get to see him transform almost completely. The epilogue doesn’t really do it justice and thankfully Mr. Paulsen was convinced to write sequels that could really focus on the new Brian that you see in the end of this book.
What we do know about Brian is that his parents are recently divorced and he is off to visit his dad for the summer. We also know that he’s got a Secret. (SPOILER: His mother was having an affair and Brian happened to witness some of it.) There is significant tension between Brian and his parents which leaves the kid feeling lost.
The setting is in Northern Canada. Specifically on the oil fields on he edge between forest and tundra. I said “specifically” but it’s really not that specific. The plane is set to fly out of Hampton, New York. I think that is an odd choice having been less than 20 miles south of that for over 7 months. You’d think it would either have been closer to Albany in the sound or further north, likely Plattsburgh. Then trying to locate the potential oil fields they might have been headed to brings up nothing, but I wasn’t trying that hard. The Cree are mentioned, but that’s a very generic term for a very diverse and wide spread people. I would have to say that Northern Quebec is the most likely place.
Through the entire experience, Brian learns many lessons and most often the hard way. Things like patience, self control, self awareness, a connection with his surroundings and a sense of peace and belonging. These were all things I always wished I had. I’m not prepared to live in the woods for 2 months with nothing but a hatchet or go through such and ordeal for them, but his experience has been a reminder of many aspects I hope to achieve in my life.
A movie was made decades ago in the age of VHS. It’s called, A Cry in the Wild, and is pretty faithful to the events in the book. Sadly it doesn’t show Brian’s transformation. He’s still mostly just and angry, volatile teenager in the end. Also the bear attacking, twice, was a bit much, but nothing compared to the bear cubs he tried to take care of. Finding the movie is a probably the worst part of it. I couldn’t find it in either library system I use. Youtube might have it available as a part of its subscription service. Netflix DVD has it but not for streaming. You can find new and used copies on Amazon and eBay, but the price is a bit more than I’d be willing to pay for an old movie when I could buy books instead.