Newbery Honor Book

Book Review: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

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Written by Gary Paulsen 
Read by Peter Coyote 
Originally Published by Aladdin on January 1, 1987 
Ages: 10+, 208 pages 
Audio Review: 3 hours, 42 minutes 
Audio Edition: Published by Listening Library on April 27, 2004
Topics: Survival, Adventure

On a trip to visit his recently divorced father, thirteen year old Brian Robeson is the only survivor in the small single engine plane crash after the pilot has a heart attack. After the pilot dies, Brian steers the plane as best as he can and lands inside the Canadian wilderness. The only items he has for survival are his clothes and the newly bought hatchet from his mother. Brian faces many challenges as he braves the wildness alone to survive. In order to survive, Brain must stay physically and emotionally strong. He often has flashbacks about his parent’s recent divorce, which is painful because he feels he wouldn’t be in this situation if his parents were still together. Brian knows that if he is going to survive the wilderness then he needs to think positive. His personality changes as he becomes more patient and corrects previously made mistakes. Brian gains patience as he learns to closely watch and think before making any quick and reckless actions. He learns skills to fish, start a fire, build a shelter, and defend himself. Hatchet is the first book in the Brian Saga series. Gary Paulsen won a Newbery Honor Award for Hatchet.

I enjoyed listening to this audio version of Hatchet. Peter Coyote’s voice was clear and provided emotion during the reading. There was sometimes music and sound effects during suspenseful moments. Some readers may become disinterested, since Brian is the only character for most of the book and there is no real conversation. However, Hatchet kept my interest as Brian encountered challenges for survival.

Book Review: Hoot

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by Carl Hiaasen

Ages 10 & up, 292 pages

Realistic Fiction, Humorous

I really enjoyed this book and finished it in a day. I don’t want to share too much information about the book, because part of the reason that kept me reading was the mystery held my attention. Roy Eberhardt is the new student at Trace Middle in Florida. He’s constantly bullied and misses his last home in Montana. If it wasn’t for Roy’s bully, Dana Materson, pushing his face against the window on the school bus then he wouldn’t have seen the strange boy running with no shoes. Roy’s curious about this boy and is determined to see him again, which causes Roy trouble. Another story plot occurs with mysterious vandalism at the future site for the next Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House. Survey stakes in the ground are removed and even animals are let loose. The running boy and vandalism mystery plot move back and forth and finally intertwine in the middle. The characters are well developed and the story elements move smoothly. Hoot will surely keep your interest as you discover what all the hoot is about in this humorous tale as a young boy attempts to do what is right while surviving at school. I highly recommend this book for all ages! Hoot also won a Newbery Honor in 2003.

Book Review: Rules

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by Cynthia Lord

Ages 10 & up, 200 pages

Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Autism, Coming-of-Age

Catherine is a twelve year old girl who desires a normal life, but sometimes it’s difficult when her brother, David, has autism. She loves David, but feels she must always tell him her ‘rules’ so he knows how the world works. Here are some of Catherine’s rules: No toys in the fish tank. At someone else’s house, you have to follow their rules. Sometimes people laugh when they like you, but sometimes they laugh to hurt you. A boy can take his shirt off to swim, but not his shorts. Catherine hopes that David can maintain these rules and many more when a potential new friend moves next door. She tries to make everything perfect to impress her maybe best friend. Catherine meets another friend when she accompanies her mother at David’s occupational therapy. Jason is a teen in a wheelchair and communicates through many word flashcards. Catherine loves drawing and introduces words and phrases that she thinks he is missing, such as awesome, gross, and stinks a big one. At first, Catherine is unsure how to relate to Jason but gradually they develop a friendship.

I thought Rules was an excellent book that had the right mix of being an awkward teen trying to be herself, yet how to be realistic and not always worry about rules. I felt the book had a lot of ‘heart’ without over doing it. Cynthia Lord has a child with autism, so I think her personal insight is seen in the book. Rules won numerous awards. It won the Schneider Family Book Award for the artistic expression of the disability experience for children and or adolescent audiences. It also earned an Newbery Honor. I highly suggest this great read.