Minnesota-native Gary Paulsen has been one of my favorite middle-grade and young adult authors for years. I can’t really remember which of his books I first read, but he’s written a lot of awfully good ones. His characters are always understandable, real, and – mostly – tied to nature in some ways.
His most iconic figure is Brian Robeson, the star of Hatchet. In that book, Brian was a city kid who ended up crashing into the brush when the pilot of the plane he was in had a heart attack and died suddenly. With only a hatchet – no matches, no sleeping bag, and no supplies, Brian taught himself how to live in the wilderness. His personal growth spread over 54 days, and the book become one of the best-received middle-grade novels ever. If you haven’t read it, or your child hasn’t read it, you should.
Brian’s Hunt is the newest book in the five-volume series. Brian is 16 at the time of this novel, and he’s become more certain of himself. He’s out on the lakes in Canada, taking his time to get to the Cree American Indian tribe he became friends with during the course of his adventures. He’s very much a loner, and has even talked his parents and school into letting him try his hand at home schooling himself.
Paulsen’s attention to detail and the ways of nature may prove slow-going to most of today’s young readers (unless they’re already in love with the series), but you can feel the love the author has for such things. I learned a lot about fishing and hunting during the course of the book, though I intend to do neither, and I could tell my ten year old was filing away details while I read the novel to him.