Cover image for The river
The river
Paulsen, Gary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1998.

Physical Description:
130 pages ; 18 cm.
Because of his success surviving alone in the wilderness for fifty-four days, fifteen-year-old Brian, profoundly changed by his time in the wild, is asked to undergo a similar experience to help scientists learn more about the psychology of survival.
General Note:
Sequel to Hatchet.
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.5 4.0 7023.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.3 6 Quiz: 09777 Guided reading level: R.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Popular Materials-Reading List
Central Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Popular Materials-Reading List
Central Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Popular Materials-Reading List
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
Elma Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Young Adult
Elma Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Paperback
Lancaster Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
Anna M. Reinstein Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
Riverside Branch Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf

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"We want you to do it again."

These words, spoken to Brian Robeson, will change his life. Two years earlier, Brian was stranded alone in the wilderness for 54 days with nothing but a small hatchet. Yet he survived.

Now the government wants him to go back into the wilderness so that astronauts and the military can learn the survival techniques that kept Brian alive. Soon the project backfires, though, leaving Brian with a wounded partner and a long river to navigate. His only hope is to build a raft and try to transport the injured man a hundred miles downstream to a trading post--if the map he has is accurate.

Author Notes

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-12. In this sequel to Hatchet [BKL N 15 87], one of the best and most popular books of the 1980s, Paulsen takes the wilderness adventure beyond self-preservation and makes teenager Brian Robeson responsible for saving someone else. It's a year later, and Brian, now 15, is persuaded to repeat what he did in Hatchet--survive for a period in the Canadian wilderness. This time, though, he won't be alone; Derek, a government psychologist, will take notes so that others can learn from Brian's experience. Everything goes well, in fact, too well; it's like a pleasant camping trip, until Derek is hit by lightning and lies in a coma. With no tools except a knife, Brian has to build a raft, navigate the river and the wild rapids, and haul Derek to the trading post about 100 miles downstream. It's all very well for Paulsen to insist that luck is part of survival, but there's luck and then there's wild coincidence--are we really supposed to believe that Brian would find all the logs for the raft conveniently cut for him right there in a beavers' clearing? As usual, Paulsen overdoes the Hemingway-type cadences and sonorous repetitions, especially when he's talking about Life. But at its best, the terse, almost monosyllabic writing perfectly expresses the basic struggle in the woods. There's candor not only in the dark scene where Brian is tempted to ditch Derek and make it alone, but also in the undramatic final admission that Derek would probably have been all right even if Brian had not made the run. Young people (including the most reluctant readers) will find the survival detail as gripping as ever, and when rooted in physical fact--in what the final chapter title calls "Measurements"--the plain words tell a great story of rebirth and connection. ~--Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

For fans of Hatchet, Paulsen's popular survival story, come two follow-up adventures. In the first, Brian must rescue a coma victim when stranded on a rapid river in the wilderness. PW called The River "as riveting as its predecessor... the psychological terrain of the sequel is fresh and distinct." Brian's Winter poses the question: what if the hero had not been rescued before the weather turned deadly? "The pace never relents," said PW, "Paulsen serves up one cliffhanger after another." Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Brian opened the door and stood back. There were three men, all in dark suits, standing on the front porch. They were large but not fat, well built, with bodies in decent shape. One of them was slightly thinner than the other two. "Brian Robeson?" Brian nodded. "Yes." The thin man smiled and stepped forward and held out his hand. "I'm Derek Holtzer. These other two are Bill Mannerly and Erik Ballard. Can we come in?" Brian held the door open to let them come in. "Mother isn't home right now...." "It's you we want to see." Derek stopped just in the entryway and the other two did the same. "Of course, we'll wish to speak to your mother and father as well, but we came to see you. Didn't you get a call about us?" Brian shook his head. "I don't think so. I mean, I know I didn't, but I don't think Mother did either. She would have said something." "How about your father?" "He doesn't live here. My parents are divorced." "Oh. Sorry." Derek truly looked embarrassed. "I didn't know." "It happens." Brian shrugged, but it was still new enough, just over a year and a half, to feel painful. He mentally pushed it away and had a sudden thought of his own foolishness. Three men he did not know were in the house. They did not look threatening, but you never knew. "What can I do for you?" "Well, if you don't know anything about any of this, maybe we should wait for your mother to come home. We can come back." Brian nodded. "Whatever you want . . . but you could tell me what it's about, if you wanted to." "Maybe I'd better check on you first. Are you the Brian Robeson who survived alone in the Canadian woods for two months?" "Fifty-four days," Brian said. "Not quite two months. Yes--that's me." "Good." "Are you from the press?" For months after his return home, Brian had been followed by the press. Even after the television special--a camera crew went back with him to the lake and he showed them how he'd lived--they stayed after him. Newspapers, television, book publishers--they called him at home, followed him to school. It was hard to get away from them. One man even offered him money to put his face on a T-shirt, and a jeans company wanted to come out with a line of Brian Robeson Survival Jeans. His mother had handled them all, with the help--through the mail--of his father, and he had some money in an account for college. Actually, enough to complete college. But it had finally slowed down and he didn't miss it. At first it had been exciting, but soon the thrill had worn off. He was famous, and that wasn't too bad, but when they started following him with cameras and wanting to make movies of him and his life it got a little crazy. He met a girl in school, Deborah McKenzie. They hit it off and went on a few dates, and pretty soon the press was bugging her as well and that was too much. He started going out the back door, wearing sunglasses, meeting Deborah in out-of-the-way places, and sliding down the hallways in school. He was only too glad when people stopped noticing him. And here they were again. "I mean, are you with television or anything?" Derek shook his head. "Nope--not even close. We're with a government survival school." "Instructors?" Derek shook his head. "Not exactly. Bill and Erik are instructors, but I'm a psychologist. We work with people who may need to survive in bad situations--you know, like downed pilots, astronauts, soldiers. How to live off the land and get out safely." "What do you want with me?" Derek smiled. "You can probably guess. . . " Brian shook his head. "Well, to make it short, we want you to do it again." Excerpted from The River by Gary Paulsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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