Gary Paulsen's Hatchet follows in the footsteps of other famous novels for boys such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and indeed this literary pedigree alone might be enough to qualify its intended audience. It's the type of story boys love, the type that littered the pages of The Boy's Own Paper and lived in the heart of many a boy scout: that of a boy dropped in the wilderness who must learn to conquer the elements and fend for himself. What Paulsen brings to this oft-told tale however, and what differs it from ot...
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...ly and unity.
Of course these are only “boy novels” and “girl novels” in the stereotypical sense. There is nothing that states that the novels can't be enjoyed by members of both sexes or that the genres themselves are gender exclusive: indeed Harry Mazer's The Island Keeper is about a young girl trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness, and Gordon Korman has written many Hopkins-ish books with a male protagonist. But what sets Paulsen and Paterson's novels apart is their authors deliberate
understanding of how to properly tweak an issue as complicated as a broken home for a specific gender's readership. To boys it'll be an adventure story, to girls the journey will be dealt with more emotionally, but in both cases it essentially boils down to the basic need to survive in a new and frightening world.
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