Thirteen-year old Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake, and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure. Brian distraught over his parents' divorce and the secret he carries is now truly alone.
Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day's challenges. Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage; an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive. I would use this book in a 5th-6th grade classroom to first off remind students of the importance of family. Divorce is a common thing, but that does not make it any less hard on kids. Through the story I hope students learn to love their family no matter how different they are and how much you disagree, because you never know when they can be taken from you or you taken from them. Just because the structure of your family changes it does not mean that your love will. I also hope students learn to not wallow in self pity, anger, bitterness, rejection, or despair, but instead find courage, determination, acceptance, and blessings in the midst of unfortunate situations. This book gives a great message on how you can survive any situation that is thrown your way if you simply work hard and believe in yourself.