My goodness, I’ve been away for too long! This is due to two things:
1. I took 43 sixth graders to camp for a week. A loooong week. Totally worth it, by the way.
2. I’ve been in a serious reading slump lately. Everyone once in a while it happens. I get distracted and have trouble settling in for reading. I got stuck in a book that I was not really enjoying, but I really wanted to like it and thought I should like it, so I was too stubborn to just quit. Then I had an assignment for a friend’s site that also involved my reading another book I did not care for at all and then figuring out how to write about it. (That was really tricky, but I did it!)
One of the side effects of a reading slump is that I tend to bounce around between different reading materials, so suddenly I found myself finishing several things at once. That’s good for this blog, so I’ll try to post a few more things in the next week or so.
Today I have two titles to present. One is a throwback, since Throwback Thursday is such a big “thing” right now, and the other is a comparatively newer book. We are looking at 1987 and 2006, so I guess those are both technically throwbacks. At any rate, the first is a classic and the second was new to me, and they both go together quite nicely.
My students just finished reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This is the story of a boy named Brian who is dealing with his parents’ fresh divorce. He is off to visit his father for the summer, traveling in a small plane to Canada, by himself. The pilot is friendly and lets Brian try flying the plane for a few minutes. Not too far into the flight, the pilot suffers a fatal heart attack and Brian has to take over the controls. He crash lands into a lake, but manages to drag himself ashore. When he wakes up, his situation is dire. It is just Brian, and the hatchet he wears on his belt, against the wilderness. The story is full of triumphs and disasters as Brian has to figure out basic survival skills like acquiring food, constructing a shelter, and making fire. He struggles and we hold our breath to see what might happen to him next. Will he get rescued? What will happen when the weather changes? Are people even still looking for him??? Phew!
My students BEGGED me to keep reading and were sad when we would have to stop each day and switch subjects. That is the sign of a high interest, captivating book! Hatchet has an AR level of 5.7 and is worth 7 points. There is a movie as well, but it is called A Cry in the Wild. (Beware of the horror movie series called “Hatchet.” It’s definitely not the same thing!)
Now, while we were reading Hatchet as a class, I was also reading a book called Alabama Moon for silent reading time. Alabama Moon was written by Watt Key, and also has a movie to match. Moon is a boy who has been raised to live off the grid since he was a baby. The mother passed away when Moon was very young, so his father raised him in the woods. Moon is an experienced survivalist, and his father has made sure to teach him how to read and write as well. When Moon’s father breaks his leg, he refuses outside help and he dies, leaving 10-year old Moon all alone. Moon is turned in to the authorities and spends some time in a juvenile detention center, where he makes his first friends ever. After a daring escape, Moon goes on the run with an angry and bumbling sheriff on his tail. This book was a great to read along with Hatchet and I found myself marking passages to read aloud and share with my class. Brian was completely clueless and had to learn how to survive, where Moon was the exact opposite. There is a part where he kills a deer and manages to use every part for something, right down to the eyeballs. It was fascinating! It’s not hard to imagine being Brian once you read about Moon’s level of experience and reinforces Brian’s struggle. (I would definitely be Brian in a survival scenario, how about you?) Alabama Moon has an AR level of 4.1 and is worth 11 points.
Read either, or both, of these books if you love a great adventure story! Don’t be tricked into thinking that these are “boy books” even though the main characters are boys. Personally I love Hatchet because of its simplicity and how gripping it is, even though it has virtually no dialogue since Brian is by himself most of the time. Alabama Moon, on the other hand, was much more about friendship and connecting with others. These two make great companion titles, and each author has additional books to check out, too. Read on!