Learning how to survive alongside Brian makes for an adventurous read, but a lot of the writing seems a bit too poetic to keep the attention of reluctant readers. Paulsen employs a lot of repetition which makes the story sound nice, but the fragments make it a little hard to follow the story, and teens who aren’t avid readers will likely get frustrated. This is unfortunate, because the book could be edited down to be very concise and readable for different reading levels. Even so, it could still be a suitable book for middle grade children, especially if they are more advanced readers. The book doesn’t have explicit language or scenes; though Brian does learn to survive by killing fish and small animals, the visuals aren’t gruesome.
This book deserves to be a young adult classic because the struggle is timeless: being stranded in the wild with nothing to help you except your own skills. Even with today’s plethora of technology, teens could equate being in Brian’s shoes to being without their phone! Books that have such a timeless theme will always be relevant for readers.
Host a “Survival” program for teens. Assign each patron or small groups a task, like: how to collect rainwater and make it safe to drink; how to identify poisonous berries and plants; how to start a fire. The possibilities are endless! Give teens time to research their subject, either in the stacks or online. Give time for the solutions to be shared. Then, have everyone turn in (or off) their device. Pass out good old fashioned paper maps, and give each teen a route to trace. Start in your city and send them to the other side of the country, or to a little-known city hidden in the middle of your state. See how well teens do when they have to read a map themselves, without the help of Google or MapQuest! Whoever makes it to their destination first (and on real roads!) wins a prize!
Paulsen, Gary. Brian’s Winter. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1996. Print.
Paulsen, Gary. The River. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1991. Print.
Paulsen, Gary. Brian’s Return. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1999. Print.
Paulsen, Gary. Brian’s Hunt. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2003. Print.
My Side of the Mountain is a novel of survival written in 1959. Readers who liked Hatchet and its follow-up books would love the My Side of the Mountain trilogy!
George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain Trilogy (My Side of the Mountain / On the
Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful’s Mountain). New York: Dutton Books for Young
Readers, 2000. Print.
6 June 2015.