Hatchet 20th Anniversery Addition


I loved this book when I read it as an adolescent, and after reading it again as an adult, I fell in love again. As a child, I loved the story, the suspense and the struggle to survive, but as an adult, I noticed elements like Paulsen’s voice and literary techniques such as repetition and the rich lesson it provides on the human condition in terms of its environment. I also admire the way the book navigates through the main character, Brian’s, mind. He becomes a different person because his environment demands it. One of my favorite moments in the book, especially as a life-skills teaching tool, is when Brain observes, “the second most important thing about nature, what drives nature. Food was first, but the work for the food went on and on. Nothing in nature was lazy.”

The version of Hatchet that I have attached is especially prolific because there are notes from the author spread throughout the book. Paulsen often chooses a theme or an action that Brain preforms in given chapters and writes a personal connection, or non-fiction information as compliments. For example, he gives information about how to detect and respond to a heart attack,  how to rid yourself of skunk odor, facts about bears, shares his experience with making a mistake and learning from it in chapter 14 when Brian realizes how crucial they are. Students will thoroughly enjoy this novel and it ignites rich discussion and debate.



I loved this book! Why did it have to end this way? Oh, I know, nothing neat will do, but I so wanted Brian to continue figuring out how to survive in the Canadian wilderness. He was learning so much and maturing so beautifully.  Comparing life in the wilderness with life in the Big Apple is probably unfair, but we have it so easy and yet so hard here.  I wouldn’t want to deal with those mosquitoes, or eat without my seasonings, but I wish I could become as lean and self sufficient as Brian did in that natural setting.  And I would hate not to have human company for such a long time (50 plus days?), yet while I no longer  feel overwhelmed by the crowds in New York, the  noise pollution does get to me at times, in fact more times than I care to count. I love the comfort of paved streets, but Brian learns to thread lightly and his senses become heightened by the need to eat and to survive generally. Have we given up too  much in our quest for “development”? This is a great book to teach youngsters and the young-at-heart about so many things: responsibility, thrift, patience, humility, respect for nature,…and the list goes on.