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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gary Paulsen's Hatchet is an intense, fast, exciting read. The main character is a 13-year-old boy whose parents are divorced. He survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness en route to visit his father and must use the hatchet his mother once gave him to stay alive. Many kids report that this is the first school-assigned book they fell in love with.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A city boy is stranded in the Canadian wilderness, equipped with nothing but a hatchet and the clothes on his back. Readers get a riveting view of Brian's struggle to survive for the next two months, forever changing his attitude toward the twentieth-century civilization to which he is eventually returned.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Brian's failures and triumphs and how they change his attitude and viewpoint.
Do you think you could survive if you were in the same situation?
Is there anything Brian did that you might have done differently?
What was the most terrifying part of his experience, in your opinion?
For kids who love adventure
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.