Hatchet – Recommended Reading

Hello, everyone! It’s Judy!

Each week, I want to talk about a novel that I read. I will introduce novels that intermediate and advanced English learners can enjoy reading.

This week, I read the novel, “Hatchet.” It was written in 1986 by Gary Paulson.

This is actually this second time I’ve read it. I first read it when I was in elementary school.

This novel is intended for children (10+ years old), however, even adults can enjoy it because the story is remarkable!

What is the story about?

The main character is a 13-year-old boy named Brian. His parents recently got divorced, and his father moved to a rural part of Canada. Brian takes a small, private plane to visit his father in Canada, but the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Brian is the only survivor and he is alone in a deep forest.

This is a survival story that you will never forget.

What is the difficulty level?

This novel is written in an easy-to-read style. The main character describes nature, his troubles, and his thoughts about survival.

Excerpt from the novel:

His legs felt wet and he raised up on his hands and looked back down at them. They were in the lake. Strange. They went down into the water. He tried to move, but pain hammered into him and made his breath shorten into gasps and he stopped, his legs still in the water.
He turned again and sun came across the water, late sun, cut into his eyes and made him turn away.
It was over then. The crash.
He was alive.
The crash is over and I am alive, he thought.

Sentences / Grammar

There is a mix of simple and complex sentences.

For an intermediate student, there might be some difficult parts. However, I recommend to just keep reading. The writing style is repetitive, so important information will be told again. You can understand the flow of the story easily.


For the most part, the novel uses straightforward vocabulary, but there are some difficult words and phrases that are related to wilderness and survival.

For example, you might notice a lot of vocabulary related to injuries:
Swollen / puffy 腫れた
Collapse 倒れる、気絶する
Dizziness めまい
Be sick / vomit 吐く
Scab かさぶた

Humor / Pop Culture

This novel is written with minimal pop culture references, and the humor is straightforward, so you shouldn’t feel “lost in translation” (通訳の過程で大切な意味が失われてしまう)while reading. Culture is mostly irrelevant because the story takes place in the wilderness.

Why do I recommend this book?

I’ve read this book as a child, and as an adult. Both times, it was a fascinating story.

Whether you enjoy hiking and camping, or you are an indoor person, this story will interest you. Brian makes both good decisions and bad decisions that impact his chances of survival. All the time, I wondered, “If I was Brian, what would I do?”

Traditional “tadoku” or “extensive reading” rules say that you shouldn’t use a dictionary. But I encourage it! Even better, check Google Images. In this story, even native speakers can learn about new animals and techniques for survival.

Hatchet: 30th Anniversary Edition (Brian’s Saga Book 1) (English Edition)

Fantasy Tadoku’s Stories

Fantasy Tadoku doesn’t have any survival stories (yet!), but you might be interested in our other stories.

Read these stories online for free:

The Hand (A dark, Sci-fi short story about a dog that brings home dead animals. One day, it brings home a hand)
Dracula (The classic vampire story of Count Dracula, written in modern English)
2 B R 0 2 B (What would the world be like if humans could live forever? It’s not as happy as we might imagine…)


Published by Judy Shinohara

Hello! I’m Judy, living in Osaka! I love teaching English to my students. In my free time, I enjoy simple gardening, reading and writing, art, and watching Netflix.

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