Friday, March 10, 2006

Booktalk Friday: Hatchet

I would like to experiment with hosting a weekly feature on Saints and Spinners. It’s called Booktalk Friday. Unlike a book review, a “booktalk” is an advertisement for a book. The booktalk is the storytelling format of the young adult librarian. In the past, I’ve resisted doing official booktalks except when they were absolutely required (i.e. job interviews), but the fact of the matter is that good booktalks actually work. Sometimes I find that I enjoy someone’s booktalk far more than I enjoy the actual book, but that is a risk I am willing to take. Repeatedly.

I must be crazy to give myself even more homework and deadlines than I already have. I do take book recommendations, by the way, but please keep in mind that my booktalk focus is going to be on children's and young adult novels.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Imagine that you are Brian Robeson. You are 13, and your parents are divorced. Today, you will fly from Hampton, NY, where your mother lives, to the north woods of Canada, where your father lives. You will fly in a two-person airplane. Before you leave, your mother gives you a small hatchet, which you can attach to your belt. “You can use it in the woods with your father,” she tells you.

Now, you are flying. Your mind is filled with thoughts of your parents’ divorce. You think that’s the worst of your problems. But then, the pilot has a heart attack… and you don’t know how to fly the plane.

If you survive the plane crash, you will be miles off-course in the wilderness. You will have to reply on your wits and your resources. You will have nothing but what you wear and what you find in your pockets.

Will you be able to make a shelter for yourself? Will you be able to find food? Will you be able to keep alive the hope that someone will find you and bring you home? You might.

But first, you have to land the plane.


Liz said...

You know, I don't remember there being that many really good books for teens when I was younger. This one sounds really interesting.

Lady K said...

I LOVE IT! I'm no (ahem) young adult, but even I would read this book based upon the booktalk. VERY cool idea, Ms. Gleeful!

Saints and Spinners said...

This is a great time to be a young adult reader. There are a lot of issues-based, "someone has it worse than I do" stories out there, but there are also ones with gripping stories that happen to have humor as well.

Lady K, I'm so glad! That is exactly the response a booktalk needs to have. I realized I needed to do this after sending a link to Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones and saying, "You've got to read this!"

I need a better selling point.

Lone Star Ma said...

I think that is an excellent booktalk...a "tease". I would call it, based on my husband's previous career in television. I found the actual book less engaging. I really thought it was very well-done and recommend it often to boys...but it was not my thing. The re-constituted meal was very memorable to me for some reason.

Saints and Spinners said...

Lone Star Ma: There is a particular passage in Hatchet that lends me courage when I need it. I even copied it out and had it on my corkboard at one point. As Ranganathan says, "Every book its reader... every reader his [or her] book."

Hazed said...

I can't believe I missed this! Alkelda, this is perfect for me - well, for me to encourage my kids to read more. I don't care WHAT the read, really, as long as they read. But, I would really like for them to get interested in some *real* books. What's interesting, my 14 year old enjoys crime shows just as much as I do, but she won't even go near any of my gazillion murder/mystery/crime/forensics novels. Go figure.

I don't know how you feel about them, but I HIGHLY suggest Judy Blume books for the 8-12 year old category.