by Gary Paulsen

Paperback, 1999



Local notes

PB Pau


Scholastic Inc. (1999), Mass Market Paperback, 289 pages


After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.


Original publication date


Physical description

289 p.; 4.3 inches


0689826990 / 9780689826993



User reviews

LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Brian Robeson is a pouty thirteen year old on his way to visit his newly divorced dad. Despite an exhilarating, first time ride in a single engine airplane (sitting as copilot), Brian is not impressed. He is more obsessed with thinking about his new fate - shuttled between two parents who don't love each other anymore. What's worse is that his mother has a Secret. It's all Brian can think about until the pilot has a heart attack...

Somehow Brian survives the crash and is plunged into a vast Canadian wilderness with only a small hatchet his mother had given to him as a gift right before getting on the plane. It is obvious the pilot is dead and Brian is very much alone. As the realization of his situation is revealed Brian's preoccupation with his parents and The Secret fades from his mind. His self pity is replaced with a new priority, staying alive. The best parts of Hatchet are Paulsen's descriptive hunting scenes. As Brian learns to build a fire, pick edible berries and hunt small game he grows into a mature individual. This is a coming of age story, survival style.

Probably my favorite section of the story is the epilogue. Paulsen is able to wrap up every concerning loose end - how Brian makes it home (hey, this is a kids book. You didn't expect him to stay lost forever, did you?), what Brian took away from his ordeal in the Canadian wilderness, and the confronting of the obvious truth that Brian probably wouldn't have survived a winter. What further intrigued me was the research Paulsen put into Hatchet. Brian's adventure is very believable.
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LibraryThing member LibrarysCat
Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, was a 1988 Newbery Honor Book and after reading the book, I agree that it should have been selected for this honor. Reading the book reminded me of Jean Craighead George’s works which are also wonderful. Hatchet is a book about ingenuity and survival.

Thirteen year old Brian Robeson knew the secret of why his parents were getting a divorce. While he was not happy about the secret or the divorce, he was going to spend some time with his father in Canada. Unfortunately, the small place crashes and Brian must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. He has only one tool – a hatchet his mother gave him before his flight. The remainder of the story is filled with natural beauty and observations by a young man who learns to live with nature to save his own life.

This book was very interesting and would be of interest to young boys who might not enjoy reading – this has a bit of adventure.
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LibraryThing member shellsie88
It's a book about surviving the wildnerness of Canada. A young boy named Brian Robeson, has survived an airplane crash (Cesnna 406) and it is up to him to do whatever he can to continue living or give up and die. Plus on top of that he has to overcome his emotions about his parents divorce. Great plot and strong character.
LibraryThing member mistre
Hatchet is a story built around the struggle of survival of a young man named Brian Robeson. Upset by his parent’s divorce and the secret he kept about his mother, Brian was on a plane to Canada to visit his father for the summer. Brian’s mother gave him a hatchet as a gift before she put him on a small Cessna 406, a bush plane. When the pilot of the plane had a heart attack and died, Brian was forced to land the plane in a lake in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Lessons of life and survival became evident in Brian’s daily life. He had to rely on past knowledge and trial and error to survive. Suddenly, he looked at the world differently. Courage and determination allowed him to get by day by day. The importance of his hatchet to his survival was seen throughout the story. After finding a transmitter in the survival bag, Brian was rescued 54 days after he crash landed the plane. For the rest of his life, he was very observant and he looked at food differently. He also had dreams about the lake. The experience changed Brian physically and mentally. Brian was a different person after he survived the wilderness.

Family struggles and survival are the main focus in Hatchet. Brian is having a difficult time with his parent’s divorce and his mother’s secret that he sees as the reason for the divorce. After the plane crash, accuracy is shown in the details of Brian’s survival. Flashbacks are used to explain Brian’s family problems. They help the reader to understand how the divorce has upset Brian. The strong character of Brian shows growth and development throughout the story. The plot was believable and thought provoking. The reader wonders if they could survive if they were in Brian’s place. The description of the setting and Brian’s thoughts and actions made the reader feel his experiences. This is a realistic story of growth and survival. An example of how an experience in one’s life can change a person forever. Young adults can relate to Brian’s family problems and his need to survive. This is an outstanding book for young adults.
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LibraryThing member LarryJackson
This is about Brian Robeson a 13 year old survives in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a hatchet. Brian was the only passenger on a small Cessna 406 plane when the pilot died of a heart attack and the plane crashed into a lake. Left with only a hatchet he received as a gift from his mother, Brian then faces survival challenges - building a shelter, hunting for food, fighting off wild animals. While facing the outside wilderness, Brian also confronts his inner difficulties following his parents divorce and as his mother's unfaithfulness. After nearly two months of resourcefulness adventures, Brian is rescued, but in the process he had grown and changed to become a new person.

I liked this book because it is realistic. Most of the things in this book I could see myself going throught some of the things Brian had to. At some parts I feel like I could be in the same situation. I also like how u have him having flashbacks seeing things and then it brings you back into the story.
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LibraryThing member locriian
Ok I read this long ago in the 5th grade and was even then SO MAD that the ENTIRE TIME he could have swam to the plane and get the box with the radio and everything that EVERY PLANE HAS and HE KNEW THIS BUT FORGOT SOMEHOW. Not only that but he stupidly ate poison berries and got the sh*ts, and got in a fight with a moose and miraculously survived. I wish he had died.… (more)
LibraryThing member Traeh7
If you like exicitment and adventure then you will like this book.It's about this boy that gets in a plane crash in the canada wood's.At first it was hard for him to get food an biuld shalter but later it gets easyerto get fod an biuld shalter
LibraryThing member jnwelch
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is a well-written survival story featuring 13 year old city boy Brian, alone in the Canadian wilderness. His parents are divorcing. The two-seater plane in which he's traveling to see his father has gone off course and crashed on a lake in the endless forest. Brian desperately tries to remember the few survival tips he has picked up in books and on tv. He finds a shielding rock under which to build a shelter, and gradually, with the help of a hatchet his mother gave him, figures out how to get by, day by day. The wilderness is beautiful and dangerous, and he realizes that "food" is the guiding principle for most of what happens there. He scavenges for berries, manages to start a fire (after a lot of experimentation), finds sand-buried turtle eggs, makes a bow and arrows to get fish and birds, and so on. He's forced to become more patient, and to accept and learn from his mistakes. He has brushes with death from unpredictable wildlife and weather, and as the first month and then another pass, he has to start reconciling himself to the possibility of no rescue.

“He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that--it didn't work.”

“Brian looked back and for a moment felt afraid because the wolf was so... so right. He knew Brian, knew him and owned him and chose not to do anything to him. But the fear moved then, moved away, and Brian knew the wolf for what it was - another part of the woods, another part of all of it.”

This is a fast and gripping young adult novel. Thanks to Karen for recommending it. Four stars.
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LibraryThing member amspicer
I loved this adventurous novel!! This is a story about a boy named Brian who is flying to Canada to visit his father... Disaster strikes as the planes pilot has a heart attack and dies!!! Brian soon saves the day as he is able to take control of the plane...until it runs out of gas.... this unfortunate series of events eventually leads to Brian being stuck in the wilderness...does he have the skills to survive?… (more)
LibraryThing member amandacb
I remember reading this book as a tween and it having a profound impact on my imagination, especially since it was the first book I ever read in which the protagonist was stranded and in a survival situation. My memory gilds many of the details of the novel, so I was interested in re-reading it as an adult. Hatchet is a quick read that is not “dumbed down” literature; Paulsen’s diction and syntax is appropriate for elementary and middle schoolers (and even resource-level high schoolers) without resorting to gimmicks. The protagonist of our story is a young teenager, Brian, who is on his way to visit his father after his parents recently divorced. The divorce is essentially a means by which the plot is driven forward; without that plotline, there would have been little need for Brian to be flying over the wilds of Canada in a single-engine plane with only the pilot for company. After the pilot suffers a heart attack and Brian attempts to crash land the plane, Brian is forced to rely upon his wits and remnants of pieces he has picked up on television to survive.

One greatest victory is building a fire; in my memory, the process is much belabored, and upon re-reading it, the process happens much too easily and quickly, I believe. However, Brian remember his old teacher’s advice (“Get motivated!”) and begins to give his days structure, which helps him survive and not lose his wits. He is clever, to be certain, and re-reading how he contrives to find food and shelter is enjoyable. The ending, though, is incredibly rushed.

Here are some quotable portions:

“The noise of his voice had startled everything and it was quiet. He looked around, listened with his mouth open, and realized that in all his life had had never heard silence before. Complete silence. There had always been some sound, some kind of sound. It lasted only a few seconds, but it was so intense that it seemed to become a part of him (51).

“He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that—it didn’t work” (82).

“A flip of some giant coin and he was the loser” (157).
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LibraryThing member MrsSClass
This book would be a good book for people who like adventure and survial. It made me want to turn page after page. This book has a series and it has more adventure and makes reading books exciting to anyone.
LibraryThing member ml445
The Hatchet is a great novel for middle school readers. The Hatchet is a story about the fight for survival and an important gift Brian receives from his mom that will save his life. This book is interesting. Readers will not want to put it down. Teachers can do many projects with this book like create your own survival tool.… (more)
LibraryThing member jshort
In my opion Hatchet is a very good book. It is very interesting, hard to put down, keeping you wanting to know what happens next. Some of the events that I liked in this book are when a skunk came into Brian's shelter and scared him while he was sleeping, when the storm came and when the bears came and ate some of his food. In this book Brian talks a lot about his parents getting a divorce and how it effects him. I can understand how he feels.… (more)
LibraryThing member sraimone
I have read nearly all the the Hatchet and Mr. Tucket series by Gary Pulsen, and couldn't put any of them down. All of his books have great story lines, interesting characters, and situations that leave you on the edge of your seat. What a great book for middle school aged children.
LibraryThing member ShelbyJoMcKay
Brian, a 13 year old boy, was headed North to visit his father. He will be spending the summer with his father because his parents have recently divorced. While flying over the Canadian forests, the pilot of their small aircraft suffers from a heart attack and dies. Brian attempts stearing the plane and successfully lands it in one of the forest's lakes. Alone and sore from the crash, Brian fears he will never be found. Over time he makes a shelter, starts a fire, learns how to find and catch food, and becomes in tune with the nature around him. He changes. He doesn't have much, but the hatchet his mother gave him before the trip. He realizes, while thinking positively, that he has a lot. Does he have the chance though to ever make it home?

I would probably not read this with a class. It was pretty boring. I think the most amusing parts were the crash and the moose part. It is probably a sixth grade level book. It was written very simply, but just wasn't my favorite. The character underwent a major transformation, but I don't think it would be applicable to many students, if any.

I was assigned this book in the seventh grade, but never read it. We worked on it in class as a group project. It was okay, not my favorite, moreso now as a college student. I just feel like it had no purpose. It was kinda informative as a novel, but I feel like all of the circumstances were way too fortunate.
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LibraryThing member dgadkins88
This book is about a thirteen year old boy who gets in a plane crash and is stranded in the woods, but he happens to have a hatchet that his mother gave him. Now he has to try to survive until he is rescued. His hatchet is a big help though. If he didn't have his hatchet who knows what's going to happen to him.
LibraryThing member rebecca401
In the wake of his parents' divorce, Brian is stranded in the forests of Canada after his plane crashes on his journey to visit his father. This story chronicles his growth as he learned from his mistakes to survive by his wits alone...with mother's gift of a hatchet his only tool.
LibraryThing member hgcslibrary
After a plane crash, thirteen year old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.
LibraryThing member lppeters
For the ages that this placement deals with (5th grade) I am not sure that some of the topics covered in this book would be appropriate. However, on the contrary, I do see many students enjoy the suspense of this book and really getting into the plot. I definitely see this book gearing more towards the boys so I thought about the idea of having a class wide book report but splitting it up to please the sexes. I think that if done and approach in a positive manner, this book can really make a impact!… (more)
LibraryThing member hermeowninny
really good coming of age book
LibraryThing member ElenaEstrada
This is a coming of age story about Brian, a young man in middle school, who is lost in a forest after a tragic airplane crash. The plot consists of Brian finding courage to become independent, and not dwell in self pity. He must also use reason to make his own careful and well thought out decisions, since mistakes in nature may have dire consequences. Soon, Brian realizes how very fragile life is, and that in the end we do not own nature; rather we are simply part of it. In addition, Brian is carrying the burden of a family secret that haunts him. The divorce of his parents is caused by his own mother’s infidelity. He is tormented by the fact that he knows and cannot decide if he should confide it to his father.… (more)
LibraryThing member rpanek
This story is about a boy named Brian whose parents recently divorced. Brian decides to visit his father who is working in Canada. While flying in a private plane, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. Brian finds himself left alone trying to survive in the wilderness. Students may show interest in the themes of this book: survival, fear, nature, isolation, and divorce.… (more)
LibraryThing member TeresaWoolvett
Hatchet has all the aspects of a truly great adventure story. The main protagonist, Brian is a very likeable character that many readers will be able to identify with as he is learning to live with the hurt and guilt of his parent’s divorce. Within the first chapter Paulson has drawn the reader into the story as Brian reveals he is keeping a horrible secret and then the pilot flying the small plane he is a passenger on suddenly dies. The adventure is very real as he survives the plane crash in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, a setting that encompasses many natural threats to Brian’s survival. This book is a captivating read. Paulson uses very descriptive language throughout to ensure the reader becomes a part of Brian’s adventure. I quickly became caught up in this adventure it was impossible to put this book down.… (more)
LibraryThing member angela1984
This is a wonderful adventure story-- for older children, teens, and adults alike! It is the story of a boy's survival in the wildnerness, and what he learns along the way. Most of all, this is a story of learning. It's not all about the drama of wilderness survival; there is actually some humor in this book, too.
LibraryThing member aiglesias
This summer I read “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen. The main character Brian is flying to Canada to visit his father. He is well on his way to Canada when his pilot has a heart attack and dies. However, Brian takes control of the plane and drives it until he runs out of gas. When the plane runs out of gas, he steers it down into an opening where there is a small L-shaped lake, and tries to land on the banks of the lake. Unfortunately he lands in the lake and is scrambles to escape from the plane before he drowns. Then Brian is stuck in the Canadian wilderness fending for himself until he is hopefully rescued. All he has is a hatchet and some paper.

This novel is quite complex and has a few themes in it. One of the main and more obvious themes is perseverance. Perseverance is one theme because Brian has the will to survive. He ended up spending fifty four days on the L-shaped lake and almost every day he would say to himself that someone was coming to rescue him. Another one is growing up and becoming more mature.

I really liked this book because Brian grew a lot throughout it. The first day he was winey unproductive. He learns how to fend for himself in the wild. He learns to make fire, catch fish, and hunt birds. Using nothing but the tools he made using his hatchet. He figured out that he had to grow up and not complain or he would die. I also liked how much detail and emotion the author put in to every little accomplishment Brian had. There is an entire chapter talking about how excited Brian is catching his “First meat”. It talks about every time he misses and how he starts to get frustrated but then he finally catches a bird! Then it says how the first bite feels and how he will never forget it. I really liked that chapter.

Another thing I liked about the book is how much he really needs the hatchet. At one point he almost loses it. After a giant storm part of the end of the plane is visible in the water. Brian remembers that there is a survival kit inside the plane. He goes through lots of trouble building a raft to get out there and then cutting away at the plane. At one point though, he drops his hatchet into the lake. He is sitting there for a moment mad at himself and then he dives down. He keeps diving until he can finally get to the bottom of the lake and gets his hatchet. That was a really important moment because if he didn’t get it, he wouldn’t have been able to make tools or cut the meats.

One thing that I didn’t like about this book was the moose attack. There is a random moose attack in the book. The moose attack has no significance in the book and is pointless attack. Even in the book Brian spends his evening trying to make sense of the attack and he can’t. That was the only part I didn’t like about this book. It was a very well written book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wanted to read it.
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Other editions

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Paperback)




(2619 ratings; 3.8)
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