Brian’s Winter tells the story of what would have happened to Brian Robeson if the rescue plane had not come at the end of the book Hatchet. Author Gary Paulsen received hundreds of letters from readers who thought Brian had been rescued too soon. He should experience living in the Canadian wilderness during the winter months. Brian’s Winter is Paulsen’s alternate ending to Hatchet.
Activities to do while Reading the Book
Diorama of Brian’s Home
Students built dioramas in the cardboard flats from a case of soft drinks. We asked the delivery guy to save them for us. Natural materials, plastic figures, clay, and other materials were used to build Brian’s home. Some students included the lake with the plane; others focused on Brian’s shelter as the one pictured here.
Dreaming of Food
After retrieving the survival kit from the Cessna, Brian dreamed of food.
In truth he felt relieved when the food was gone. It had softened him, made him want more and more, and he could tell that he was moving mentally away from the woods, his situation. He started to think in terms of the city again, of hamburgers and malts, and his dreams changed.
In the days, weeks and months since the plane had crashed he had dreamed many times. At first all the dreams had been of food—food he had eaten, food he wished he had eaten and food he wanted to eat.
Write about the foods you would dream about if you were in Brian’s situation. Use Paulsen’s style of writing by including many sensory details. What the food would smell, taste, feel, look, and sound like?
“How did Brian Survive?” Graphic Organizer
In this activity, students select nine things Brian did that saved his life. They must be able to support each of their opinions with textual evidence by listing two examples of evidence from the text to support their ideas Download the free organizer here.
Learn about the Animals Brian Encountered
Brian ate fish, foolbirds (ruffed grouse), and rabbits before he learned he could hunt bigger game. Later he ate deer and moose. Brian also had encounters with a skunk he fondly named Betty and wolves that he thought he had an understanding with about property boundaries.
Complete a small research project to learn more about these animals.
How cold do you think it got in Brian’s Winter?
Check out this video from YouTube and then compare it to the descriptions that Brian gave.
This would be a fun class activity. Watch the video to see how to make an instant Slurpee from a soft drink in three seconds.
Free Samples from Brian’s WinterBook Unit
If you would like to try out the Brian’s Winter Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains the following free samples:
Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
Constructive Response Question – Course of Action
Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like
Brian’s Winter Book Unit
Brian’s Winter Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructive response writing, and skill practice.
In this free printable, you will receive six mini-books that students can use to summarize Woods Runner.
Book 1 ~ Exposition
Samuel Smith is a 13 year old boy who lives in western Pennsylvania in 1776. He hunts for the people in his small settlement in exchange for his neighbors helping his parents who are newcomers to the frontier.
Samuel is out on a hunt when he seessmoke in the direction of his settlement. He races back home to find several of the settlers have been savagely killed and the others have been carried away as captives.
Book 2 ~ Rising Action
Samuel uses the tracking skills he learned when hunting to figure out what took place at the settlement. Samuel learns the attackers were British soldiers and Iroquois Indians.
Samuel catches up to them only to be clubbed with a tomahawk by one of the Iroquois.
A group of Patriots nurse Samuel back to health. Samuel continues his hunt.
Book 3 ~ Rising Action
Samuel begins tracking his parents. He catches up to them only to be clubbed with a tomahawk by one of the Iroquois. A group of Patriots nurse Samuel back to health. Samuel continues his hunt. After leaving a farm where he had been given a delicious meal, Samuel sees a group of Hessians heading for the farm he just left. He turns back to help, but is too late. He witnesses the murder of the man and his wife, and sees their 8 year old daughter Annie Clark race into the woods to safety. Samuel finds Annie. She joins him on his trip to find his parents.
Book 4 ~Rising Action
Samuel and Annie head to New York City to rescue Samuel’s parents.
On the way they come across a Scottish tinker named Abner McDougal. Abner takes Annie and Samuel to New York City where they believe Samuel’s parents have been imprisoned.
Later Samuel and Annie discover he is spying on the British.
Book 5 ~ Climax
Abner and Samuel find Matthew who is a friend of Abner’s. He carries them from New Jersey across the Hudson River into New York. Abner plans a simple escape plan. The escape goes mostly the way Abner has planned.
Book 6 ~ Falling Action and Resolution
After a successful rescue, Abner takes the group partway to Philadelphia where Americans still have control over the city. The family walks for days until they accidentally walk up on a group of British soldiers. A group of American soldiers come to battle just in the nick of time to save everyone. The American soldiers take Samuel’s family the rest of the way to Philadelphia in exchange for news about what is taking place in New York City.
Samuel’s parents adopt Annie. They open a school for orphans in Philadelphia. Samuel becomes restless living in the city. When he turns 16, he takes off toward the war, not to fight, but to help people in a payback mission for the help he received while looking for his parents.