Hatchet.  Gary Paulsen

PUBLISHER, 1987; Awarded 1990.

Synopsis:  Following the recent divorce of his parents, thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is sent by plane to visit his father in Canada.  In route, the single engine bush plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness after the pilot suffers a massive heart attack.  Brian survives the crash only to discover he will also have to survive living alone with no equipment but the clothes he is wearing, and a small hatchet attached to his belt before take-off, a farewell present from his mother.  Though Brian is eventually rescued, he spends fifty-four days along coping with attacks from insects, a porcupine, a skunk, a moose and finally a tornado.  The decisions he makes and the problem-solving skills he uses are based on sketchy facts he remembers from television, books and school.  These help him survive hunger, loneliness, illness and fear.  While he overcomes physical struggles, he also comes to grips with parents' divorce.

Themes:  Survival, Courage, Self-reliance, Divorce, Wilderness

Author:  http://www.ipl.org/youth/AskAuthor/paulsen.html

Discussion questions:  Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. What kinds of past experience, resources, and pints of reference does Brian draw on in order to survive?
2. What rules for life does Brian learn in the wilderness?
3. Will Brian find it difficult to return to his old life after rescue?  If so, what issues might be problematic for him?

Activities:
1. List the kinds of past experiences, resources, and points of reference you could draw on for survival if you were stranded in a Kansas blizzard?  Standard 3, Benchmark 2
2. You are planning to give Brian an award.  Create the award and write a presentation speech to accompany it.  Standard 5, Benchmark 3
3. List the kinds of materials you would include in a survival kit.  Standard 2, Benchmark 4