Hatchet, written by Gary Paulsen and published by Scholastic, Inc., is a thrilling adventure tale. Upper elementary kids, particularly boys, will stay engaged in this 1988 Newbery Honor book.

The story centers on Brian Robeson, a thirteen-year-old boy, whose parents are recently divorced. He will be flying to visit his father across the continent. Brian’s mother arranges for him to leave from an airport in New York on a small plane. He is the only passenger and will be sitting in the co-pilot’s seat.

During the long plane ride, the pilot explains to Brian certain things about flying a plane. Brian tries them out, but lacks interest. He is still processing his parents’ divorce and resents the fact that he has to travel a long way to see his father.

When they have almost reached their destination, the pilot has a heart attack. Brian must take over flying the plane. He is fearful, but somehow keeps from panicking and giving up. He keeps the plane in the air for several hours, but when it does finally run out of fuel, he tries to land it. He lands it on a small lake, deep in the wilderness of Canada.

Brian uses the skills he can remember from some survival training to keep himself alive. At first, the only tool he has is a hatchet his mother gave his as a gift. Much later, he finds the survival kit from the plane and that helps a lot. Along the way, he faces many severe difficulties including hunger, thirst, wild animals and even being sprayed by a skunk.

After about six weeks, he is finally rescued by someone who is in the area doing some trapping. He is greatly relieved. He also discovers that he is not the same young man he was before. He has grown up considerably. He now can face hardship with a greater strength than he has ever known.

As I read this book, I kept thinking how God has fashioned our minds to be so intricate and wonderful.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience, Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”