Books Like Hatchet
Hatchet is a 1987 wilderness survival novel by Gary Paulsen that was written for a young-adult audience. The title is derived from the hatchet that Brian Robeson, the thirteen-year-old protagonist of the story receives as a gift from his mother. This hatchet becomes essential for his survival when Brian is the only survivor of a plane crash that leaves him stranded alone in a vast wilderness. It is a riveting tale of survival and readers are drawn into the story as they follow Brian on his adventure. The success of Hatchet resulted in four more titles being published in the series and in addition to being a recipient of the 1988 Newberry Honor, it was adapted into a film titled A Cry in the Wild in 1990. Fans of kids’ survival stories that are suitable for children and young adults, will enjoy the following books like Hatchet.
The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of my Follies, Fortune, and Fate
The title is quite a mouthful, but The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts is one of the best recent examples of a novel that features a boy that has to fight for his survival in an uncaring environment. The story is set in England of 1724 and Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes up one morning to discover that not only is his dad missing, but the house is completely flooded. A note reveals that his dad went off to London, which leaves Oliver with no home, money, or food. In desperation, Oliver takes money from a shipwreck he finds on the beach, which is a hangable offense. After his discovery, Oliver is forced to flee the small seaside town and sets off for London to find his father. Of course, London is no place for a young boy and Oliver has to deal with all kinds of villains and crooks during his adventure. This novel was followed by a sequel, The End of the World and Beyond, which is just as action-packed.
by Armstrong Sperry
Maftu is the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worships courage. Although his name means "Stout Heart" Maftu is afraid of the sea. With good reason too, as he lost his mother and almost his life to it as a baby. Since then Maftu has believed that the sea gods are out for vengeance because they could not claim his life too. Unfortunately, because he feared and avoided the sea, it quickly marked him as a coward amongst his people and resulted in endless taunts and jibes. Eventually, Mufta decides to tackle his fears head-on and along with his little dog and pet albatross sets out in his canoe. From storms to desert islands, Maftu not only has to survive but also finds his courage in this captivating novel.
by Iain Lawrence
The Skeleton Tree has been described by critics as a classic in the making and drew favorable comparisons to Hatchet when it was released. In this novel author, Iain Lawrence tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy named Chris. What was supposed to be a sailing trip down the Alaskan coast with his uncle turns into a disaster when the boat sinks. Chris and another boy named Frank are the only two survivors and find themselves with no food or equipment. Despite the fact that Frank dislikes Chris the two of them have to learn to get along to survive in the wilderness of Alaska. Although the two initially manage to survive through sheer force of will the odds turn against them when the weather becomes colder and the salmon migration ends.
by Theodore Taylor
The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a gripping survival story with a twist. The book was published in 1969 and it took Taylor only three weeks to complete the story. The protagonist is an 11-year-old boy named Phillip Enright, who finds himself aboard the S.S. Hato after the outbreak of World War II. Unfortunately, the ship is hit by torpedoes and Phillip ends up drifting at sea. However, Phillip is not alone as he also ends up with an old black man named Timothy and a cat. Together this motley group ends up on a small island and has to depend on each other for survival. This task is made even more difficult to the racial prejudice that the young white boy holds against the older black man. Phillip was also blinded thanks to a blow to the head during the attack on their ship, which means he has to learn to trust Timothy if he wants to live.
by Terry Lynn Johnson
The author of Ice Dogs, Terry Lynn Johnson, is a musher herself, so her tale of a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dog-sled racer feels extremely authentic. The protagonist is Victoria Secord, who has been struggling since her father passed away. Victoria's relationship with her mother is deteriorating, so she pours all her time into the dog team that used to belong to her father. It is during a run with these dogs that she encounters an injured city boy and rescues him. However, when a blizzard hits, Victoria finds that both of them are now lost and in need of rescue. Victoria has learned survival skills from her father and will have to put all of them to the test if she wants to save herself as well as the boy who she found.
by Jean Craighead George
My Side of the Mountain is a 1959 novel by Jean Craighead George, starring a 14-year-old boy named Sam Gribley. Sam has to share a crowded New York apartment with his eight brothers and sisters, which is a situation that he is not happy with at all. Then Sam comes up with the idea to live off the land by running away to his great-grandfather's farm near Delhi, New York as it is abandoned. To prepare himself, Sam brushes up his survival knowledge from books at the public library. Sam's father permits him to go on his adventure with the belief that Sam will quickly return once he discovers how hard it is to live without modern amenities. However, despite finding the farm in ruins, Sam not only survives but manages to thrive out in the wilderness.