A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Accurate depiction of the necessities of survival in the wilderness.
Nature can be unforgiving. Extreme challenges can inspire deep wells of courage, strength, resilience and inner growth.
Positive Role Models
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 & Scariness
A plane crash in the Canadian wilderness triggers the survival story. Main character Brian kills various wild animals in order to feed and defend himself. Brian's life is constantly at risk. Readers are held in suspense by his fight to survive. Story touches on attempted suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mention that the main character's mother had an affair with another man, causing his parent's divorce.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.