Hatchet (novel)

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For other uses, see Hatchet (disambiguation).
First edition cover
Author Gary Paulsen
Original title Hatchet
Country United States
Language English
Series Brian's Saga
Genre Young adult novel
Publisher Bradbury Press
Publication date
September 30, 1987; 27 years ago (1987-09-30)
Media type Hardcover and Paperback and Ebook
Pages 195 p. (first edition, hardback)
186 p. (second edition, paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-02-770130-1 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 15366056
[Fic] 19
LC Class PZ7.P2843 June 1987
Followed by The River

Hatchet is a 1987 Newbery Honor-winning young-adult wilderness survival novel written by Gary Paulsen.[1] It is the first novel of five in the Hatchet series.


Brian Robeson is a thirteen-year-old son of divorced parents. As he travels on a Cessna 406 bush plane to visit his father in the oil fields in northern Canada for the summer, the pilot suffers a massive heart attack and dies. Brian tries to land the plane, but ends up crash-landing into a lake in the forest. He must learn to survive on his own with nothing but his hatchet—a gift his mother gave him shortly before his plane departed.

Throughout the summer, Brian survives in the endless wilderness with only his hatchet. He discovers how to make fire with the hatchet and eats whatever food he can find, such as rabbits, birds, turtle eggs, fish, berries, and fruit. He deals with threats from animals such as a porcupine, bear, skunk, moose and wolves. Robeson eventually becomes a fine woodsman and crafts a bow, arrows, and a fishing spear to aid in his hunting. He also fashions a shelter out of the underside of a rock overhang. During his time alone, Brian struggles with memories of home and the bittersweet memory of his mother, whom Brian had caught cheating on his father prior to their divorce.

When a sudden tornado hits the area, it draws the tail of the plane toward the shore of the lake. Brian makes a raft from a few broken off tree tops to get to the plane. When Brian is cutting his way into the tail of the plane, he drops his hatchet in the lake and dives in to get it. Once inside the plane, Brian finds a survival pack that includes additional food, an emergency transmitter, and a .22 rifle. Back on shore, Brian activates the transmitter, but not knowing how to use it, he thinks it is broken and throws it aside. However, his distress call is heard by a passing airplane, and he is rescued.


A film adaptation titled A Cry in the Wild was released on June 1, 1990.[2]

Paulsen continued the story of Brian Robeson with four more novels, beginning with The River in 1991.


  1. ^ Greasley, Philip A. (30 May 2001). Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume 1: The Authors. Indiana University Press. p. 403. ISBN 0-253-10841-1. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Staci Layne (2007). Animal Movies Guide. Running Free Press. p. 282. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
On My Honor
Winner of the
William Allen White Children's Book Award

Succeeded by