© Gary Paulsen 1996, 1991, 1999
Although these three books don't complete Brian's saga (there is a fifth novel, Brian's Hunt), I bundled them together here because the last two are so minor. Brian's Winter is almost as fascinating as the original novel, forcing Brian to adapt to completely new circumstances. The larger animals that ignored Brian in Hatchet, like bears, become far more interested in him as summer gives way to fall and they must prepare for hibernation. In addition to having to learn new skills -- weatherproofing his shelter, creating winter clothing out of rabbit skins, fabricating snowshoes -- Brian takes on larger challenges, like hunting moose and deer. He does this not for sport, but out of necessity: the Canadian winter storms are so savage that he is safer taking the occasional big kill than risking exposure every day looking for rabbits and grouse. In River and Return, river navigation gets some attention but wilderness survival plays second fiddle to the book's respective little plots. Far more interesting than the plot of Brian's Return, I thought, was the author's note that almost everything that happens to Brian within the novels in the wild happened to him during his twelve years of living in the wilderness, including deer jumping into his canoe and skunks rescuing him from bears. Brian's Winter is a strong sequel to the fascinating Hatchet, but the other two seem more like extras than anything else.