Gary Paulsen, Hatchet, p. 9
I'd never met him before. Or knew he existed. The boy who started reading Hatchet and got bored near the end. Gary Paulsen's adventure tale is like the holy grail of books you hand towards "reluctant readers." Once they've read that, you can branch out into the sequels, the rest of Gary Paulsen's books, and then My side of the mountain...its sequels, and voila! you have a reader.
True confessions? I've never actually read Hatchet. Like Bunnicula in my bookselling days, it is a book that I know is a winner, so I hand sell it by plot. (It's about a bunny who is a vegetarian vampire.) Or, in the case of Hatchet, it's about a boy who gets stranded and all he has to survive is his hatchet.
So I seriously need to bone up on my books for reluctant sixth grade boys. He wouldn't take Hiassen's Hoot, and I forgot about Lupica. (Heat is an amazing book, fun, so much that you wonder why it's in with all the angsty YA books.)
And about that. Why aren't there more fun books for boys going into 6th grade? Must it all be Crutcher (his Chinese Handcuffs was the most requested to be banned book of its era) or Christopher Pike (king of horror). And honestly, would you hand sell Christopher Pike to a kid whose mom is hovering, saying "We have to find a book so we can tell her what you're reading." Her. I wonder if it's a teacher, or just a nosy aunt. Probably a teacher. There is so much more I could have recommended if I could have gotten the boy to shed his tough guy exterior, which with hovering mama there, wasn't going to happen. So I gave him Crutcher's Athletic Shorts. Saw the red dot (our code for more mature YA books) too late. WHY didn't I remember Lupica???
He wanted a book about hockey. But I couldn't hand him Matt Christopher, not after I found out he was going into sixth grade. Bruce Brooks wrote that series back in the late 90s, but the books are short (91 pages!) and most libraries don't carry paperback series that are ten years old. (We don't.) (Oh, unless it's R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, or the Boxcar Children.) None of which I would have gotten away with recommending to this tough guy almost 6th grader and his hovering mama.
Which is not to say that hovering mamas are evil--if it weren't for her, I doubt he would have stepped foot into the library yesterday.
But it's frustrating. So off I go, to find the Notables list and the Reluctant Readers lists, bone up on my "what you recommend to a tough guy 6th grader who got bored at the end of Hatchet."
Oh, and I have a copy of Hatchet on my desk. I think it's about time I read it.