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AuthorGary Paulsen
CountryUnited States
PublisherBradbury Press
Released30 September, 1987
Media TypeHardback & Paperback
ISBNISBN 0-02-770130-1 (Hardcover)
Followed byBrian's Winter or The River

Brian Robeson is on a single-engine airplane on his way to the northern woods of Canada to visit his father when the pilot has a heart attack and the airplane crashes into a lake. Thirteen year old Brian is stranded in the forest and has to survive on his own. His only companion is a hatchet that his mother gave him right before the flight.


Brian Robeson

  • Thirteen years old
  • Parents are getting a divorce
  • From New York
  • Lives with mother during school; father during summer


  • The pilot of the airplane bringing Brian to his father's
  • Let's Brian control the airplane for a second
  • Dies of a Heart attack
  • Brian can't tell weather or not his name is Jim or Jack

Brian's Mom

  • Cheating on Brian's dad
  • Gives Brian the hatchet before he gets on the plane

Brian's Dad

  • Lives in the northern Canadian woods
  • Unaware that his wife is cheating on him

Chapter 1

Brian is taken by his mother to an single-engine airplane to escort him to the northern Canadian woods, where he will spend the summer with his father. Before Brian boarded the airplane and left, his mother gave him a hatchet so that he can use it for the summer. Brian tries to get the pilots name, but cannot tell weather it is Jim or Jack. The airplane takes off. During mid-flight, the pilot is experiencing unexpected pains in his shoulder. These increasing pains eventually turn into a heart attack which kills the pilot.

Chapter 2

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