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Parents' Guide to


By Jessica Pierce, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Hold on tight for an intense tale of survival.

Hatchet Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 46 parent reviews

age 10+

Hatchet - A good survival book for 10+

This was my favorite book as a child, rereading it at least once a year from age 10 until I was 21. I just read it for the first time as an adult, checking for problematic things I may have missed as a child, before recommending it to my 10 & 11 year old nieces. I still think it’s a really good book for kids to read, especially for children that are interested in nature and survival. It does talk about cheating and divorce, and Brian is very angry about it in the beginning, but grows and doesn’t seem to hold a grudge by the end. There is also the mention of suicide - Brian being depressed and trying to cut his wrists. This didn’t trigger me as a child, it was more a quick description of what most people in this situation would probably face at one point or another. It didn’t linger on it, a page worth of description, and then moves on to Brian being stronger and surviving. I would recommend this book to most kids 10+ years old.
age 14+

Age range not appropriate

Many sites says this book is for ages 11 to 13, but personally, I think that is still too young. Mom has an affair, thoughts of suicide and using God's name in vain is not for tweens, in my opinion. Plus, killing of animals can upset younger tweens too. I know this is 2016 and kids are exposed to more, but I stand by my opinion.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (46 ):
Kids say (126 ):

Muscular prose, plus an accurate depiction of the necessities of survival from an author who has lived the details, makes this a riveting, intelligent read. HATCHET has won dozens of awards and appears on many summer-reading lists -- and for good reason. In the end, the book is a fascinating thrill that will keep readers mesmerized to the last page.

Gary Paulsen does not romanticize the difficulties Brian faces. Readers witness his gut-wrenching sickness from eating too many berries and his shock when he realizes he has never before heard total silence. His failures and triumphs are also presented as equal parts of one life-altering experience. In the two months he spends in the wild, Brian undergoes countless emotional and physical changes. But Paulsen keeps the reader at Brian's side as he discovers how strong he has always been.

Book Details

  • Author: Gary Paulsen
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: January 1, 1987
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
  • Number of pages: 195
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: October 5, 2018

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