Hatchet

Book review by
Jessica Pierce, Common Sense Media
Hatchet Book Poster Image
Hold on tight for an intense tale of survival.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 97 reviews

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive messages

This school-assigned read is fast-paced and intense. It shows, rather than tells, just how unforgiving nature can be.

Positive role models & representations

Brian starts out stubborn with a bad attitude, but he is forced to be brave, hardworking and careful to survive.  The story charts his personal growth in the face of an incredible challenge -- to survive.

Violence

The main character kills various wild animals in order to feed and defend himself. Brian's life is constantly at risk. Readers are held in suspense by Brian's fight to survive.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

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.

User Reviews

Parent of a 6 and 9 year old Written bymcdolins August 2, 2011

Adult issues involved

To be honest, I am disappointed that this book is regarded so highly. Although it is well-written and I am sure that my almost-10-year-old will love the advent...
Adult Written byRhonda21 April 9, 2008

only for mature readers

I do not recomment this book for children younger than 6th or 7th grade. Content not suitable for young readers: adultery/mother's affair, profanity and u...
Teen, 14 years old Written bykaratedude April 9, 2008

Fast-paced!

I absoulutely LOVE this book, but one of the big issues is the Brian's mother cheated on his father. Brian must kill many things to survive in the wild, t...
Teen, 16 years old Written byNoseBleed April 26, 2011

I didn't like it but you might! :)

I thought that Hatchet was an okay book. The story line was somewhat boring in places and didn’t have any strong characters. Yes, Brian was there and you got...

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?

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

For kids who love adventure

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