This great series of 5 books by Gary Paulsen are about survival in the wilderness and would suit kids aged 10-15. They are quite short, so a keen reader will devour each in an hour or two. However because of that, they would also be excellent for reluctant readers, or to read aloud.
In Hatchet, Brian Robeson, age 13, is in a small aircraft on his way to visit his dad in the Canadian wilderness. A fatal heart attack strikes the pilot and Brian is forced to crash land. As he escapes the wreckage of the plane with only a hatchet attached to his belt, he learns first hand what he needs to survive on his own.
There are then 4 more: Hatchet: The Return (also called The River) – when he returns to try show a psychologist how he did it, but tragedy strikes making it again a matter of life or death. Brian’s Winter is what surviving the first winter would have been like.
By the time you get to Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt it is clear that the woods of Canada have changed him forever, and he needs to live in the wild. As you read these books, including the author explanations, it seems clear the Paulsen knows what he is talking about. Many of the situations Brian encounters are based on real events either the author or others have experienced.
For many city kids out there, of which my Mr 12 is included, these are great stories which present a very different reality from the one they live and operate in. It is clear from the writing that Paulsen loves the wild, and it is part of who he is. He doesn’t talk about taming it or conquering it, rather how it conquers you. We both really enjoyed these books.