Until last month, I didn’t even realize that Hatchet had a sequel. Turns out, it has four. How did I not know this?! I skipped over The River, the first sequel, for the time being, as it seemed like a repeat of the first but with an audience. Although I have to confess, I’ll probably be reading it sooner rather than later. But I was intrigued by the synopsis of Brian’s Winter. What if Brian hadn’t been rescued, and had to ride out the winter in the Canadian wilderness? Would he survive?
Spoiler-alert: he survives! And with a lot less angst than was present in Hatchet. By this point, he’s come to terms with his new life and is actually flourishing on his own in the wild. He learns to hunt big game and store meat and make clothes. The first book was emotional. This follow-up “what if?” book was a lot more fun because Brian seemed so happy!
Seeing how someone survives and adapts is always incredibly interesting to me. And what I really love about these books is that they’re not romanticized. Things don’t just fall in Brian’s lap. And he wouldn’t be as happy if they did. The sense of fulfillment and self-satisfaction that floods him whenever he succeeds at something drives him almost as much as his need to survive.
I think every kid should read these books, not only so they have a greater appreciation of what they have, but so they can see the beauty and harshness of nature. Every child should be able to fantasize about surviving on their own, and these books add a touch of realism to that fantasy. And honestly, it wouldn’t hurt adults to read or reread these books, either. Sometimes we need to be reminded what a child can accomplish, and to remember that a child still resides at the center of each of us.