The Best Author in the Known Universe!
Sure, I have my own "personal" favorite authors. They include Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Gaitskill. However, once in awhile you encounter an author who truly knows how to speak to his audience and hold them enraptured. Once in a blue moon, you will find an author who weaves a type of magic with his words that is unbelievable. Our son has found just such an author. It is the great Gary Paulsen.
Paulsen's books include the immortal Newbery Honor book, Hatchet. BEST. BOOK. EVER. (image is Amazon hotlink)
Hatchet is the tale of a young boy, Brian Robeson, whose single engine plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. For the next fifty-seven days, Brian must survive by wits and willpower alone... with no tools but a hatchet.
Of Hatchet, Publishers Weekly said:
"When the pilot of a small, two-person plane has a heart attack and dies, Brian has to crash land in the forest of a Canadian wilderness. He has little time to realize how alone he is, because he is so busy just trying to survive. And learning to survive, to plan on food not just for a day but until and if he is rescued, only begins when he stops pitying himself and understands that no one can help him. He is on his own, without his divorced father, whom he was to visit, or his mother, whom Brian saw kissing another man before the divorce. This is a heart-stopping story: it seems that at every moment Brian is forced to face a life-and-death decision, and every page makes readers wonder at the density of descriptive detail Paulsen has expertly woven together. Poetic texture and realistic events are combined to create something beyond adventure, a book that plunges readers into the cleft of the protagonist's experience. Ages 11-13."Hatchet is a stunning, thrill-a-minute glimpse into survival and the human spirit. Wow. What an amazing piece of writing. Our son is 9 and it takes a really special book to get him excited. The book is at the top of his reading level and still he cannot put it down. THAT'S REMARKABLE.
This book has swept him under its spell, and he will often read extra, beyond the reading assignment... reading Hatchet instead of playing with the rats, building solar panels, and other things of interest. Hatchet has swept me away too! I keep sneaking the book away from him in order find out what is going to happen next.
Hatchet is my current favorite book of all time. Clearly, it is brilliant and Gary Paulsen is a genius. After almost 20 years in print, the book still ranks very high (low 2,000s today) on Amazon.com and has almost 1,000 reviews posted, overwhelmingly positive.
Something about the story of survival has spoken deeply to our son. Perhaps it is because of his own day-to-day struggle for survival against his chronic disease. Perhaps it is just because he loves a good, solid adventure story. This book has a wonderful message for anyone, and its emphasis on positive character qualities can be applied to anyone's life, young or old.
Best of all Paulsen has written dozens upon dozens of books, and other Caldecott/Newbery winners, including Brian's Winter, which speculates on an alternative ending to Hatchet. Whatever the case, God Bless Gary Paulsen. And long live Hatchet!