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IMWAYR: Considering setting in Hatchet

Monday Linky from Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers!

So I confess I connect with Kellee most weeks for her and Ricki's linky It's Monday What Are You Reading.  However I took a moment to read her blogpost Beyond Setting.  After reading her blog post, I thought I'd write on it too.

In my class, we just finished reading Hatchet.  The kids loved it.  It's an amazing book that has won a Newbery Honor medal.  In Hatchet, by Gary Paulson,  setting is everything.  Without it, there is no book.

If you're not familiar with the book, it's about Brian Robeson, a thirteen year old, who is flying in a plane to stay with his father for the summer.  Unfortunately, the pilot has a heart attack and the plane goes down. We don't know where Brian lands but we do know he is in the Canadian wilderness. When he first arrives, he feels as if nature is almost attacking him: the swarms of insects, the sharp quills of the porcupine and the spray of the skunk.

Here are some images of what the students visualized:

Once Brian begins to see himself as a part of the forest, he sees himself as one with the animals.  He is no longer alien to the forest. That changes the way he interacts with the setting.

Imagine if Brian had landed there in the middle of the winter!  That would a whole different set of problems he would need to face.  If you'd like to know about this version, read Brian's Winter because Gary Paulson answered that question.

What are you reading with your kids?  Here are some activities you can try with them:

  • What if?-  What if your story were set in a different setting or time period?  What if Cinderella happened in Los Angeles during the time of the Gold Rush?  What if Esperanza from Esperanza Rising took place in New York in present day?
  • Art Connection- Create a painting or a diorama of a specific chapter in a book.  Give different groups of students different chapters and you can string them together in a visual timeline of how the setting has changed throughout the book. 
  • Five senses:  Use the five senses to write about a particular setting.  Be imaginative and stretch your thinking.
  • Mood and Tone-  How can a setting affect mood and tone?  How would you change the setting in order to change the mood and tone?

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