Our family had our first “wilderness” adventure together this summer. With all of our necessities on our backs, we packed in to a primitive campsite on the Superior Hiking Trail and spent the night away from all modern conveniences. And we all came out alive.
The boys filtered water from the Split Rock River, gathered firewood off the trail and set up their own tent. They inhaled their mountain meal like it was the most delicious food they had tasted in their lives, and Owen said he liked river water better than regular water.
Aside from one child falling in the river, an almost bad log on a leg accident, the ongoing fight with killer mosquitoes and this mama losing her voice, the trip went pretty much without a hitch.
It was during this vacation that I started reading Hatchet aloud to the boys. They loved it. It may have had something to do with the fact that they felt they could relate in a tiny way to the protagonist, Brian, who was on his own far from civilization. In fact, when Brian started a fire with the paper-like bark from a birch tree, the boys were like, “Hey, that’s what we used.” Brian was roughing it a bit more than we were, but I think it made them feel like bonafide outdoorsmen.
Basic premise of Hatchet: After a crash landing in a small plane somewhere in the Canadian wilderness, Brian Robeson is left alone to survive with nothing but the clothes on his back and the hatchet attached to his belt.
Here’s a list of what the boys thought were the best parts of the book (spoiler alert)
* Brian crash-landing the plane in a lake after the pilot died of a heart attack
* Seeing how Brian figured out how to catch fish and hunt birds
* When Brian figured out how to get the survival pack out of the plane
I thought it was fun to “watch” Brian’s mental processes and to see how creative he was with what little he had. Kind of like a kid version of Castaway.
Overall, it’s an excellent story. And kudos to Gary Paulsen for writing a page-turner of a middle-years novel with basically one character. This one is highly recommended by the Harms boys and the Harms mama.
We’re looking forward to starting Brian’s Winter next.