Fast-paced, action-packed! In this classic tale of winter wilderness survival, Hobbs masterfully weaves adventure, Native American heritage, and friendship into a riveting, multi-layered narrative.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those insatiable fans of Hatchet are the likeliest audience for this winter survival tale, which weds its adventure-seeking thrills to education about Dene Indian culture. Fifteen-year-old Gabe, a Texan, enrolls in a boarding school in Canada's Northwest Territories to be near his father, whose love of the wilderness has become infectious. But Gabe gets more than he bargained for when an airplane accident leaves him and his roommate Raymond, a Dene, stranded near the fierce Nahanni River at the start of a long winter. Guided by their fellow survivor Johnny Raven, a Dene elder, Gabe and Raymond learn to hunt beavers, trap rabbits and make snowshoes and mittens from animal hide. More significantly, they learn respect for ancient Dene beliefs. When Raven dies of the cold, the two boys must struggle out of Deadmen Valley on their own. Predictably sentimental, Hobbs's (Beardance) fast-moving tale nonetheless delivers breathless action and an inspiring sense of Canada's vast landscape. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Diane Tuccillo
Fifteen-year-old Texan Gabe Rogers decides to attend boarding school in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories so that he can be near his father, who is working at a diamond drilling project. When his roommate, Raymond Providence, a native from a remote Dene village, chooses to leave the boarding school and return home, Gabe is invited by his pilot buddy, Clint, to fly along. With them is Raymond's great-uncle, Johnny Raven, who has just been released from the hospital in Yellowknife and is also returning home to the village. Clint decides to take a detour up the Nahanni river to show his passengers the spectacular Virginia Falls, even though his radio is not functioning well enough to allow him to report his change in flight plans. When the engine dies after the plane lands on the river, everyone is nearly swept away by the strong current. The boys and Johnny Raven manage to get some supplies and themselves to the riverbank, but Clint is not so lucky. He and the plane are dragged over the falls. So begins a battle of survival for the wise elder and two resourceful teens, with the intense Arctic winter descending upon them. This classic Hobbs adventure, taking readers to a rugged, amazing wilderness few know. Characters are well drawn, and excitement and energy penetrate their entire trek from above Virginia Falls through the looming canyon of the almost-frozen Nahanni below. Smart and faulty choices are made the whole journey until the boys realize they must follow Johnny Raven's guidance if they are to make it back home. When Johnny Raven dies, the boys have learned so much from him they are able to continue their journey. Raymond is even able to recognize the spirit of the raven as their guide, reminiscent of Burr's cougar in Ardath Mayhar's Medicine Walk (Atheneum, 1985). Readers clamoring for more superior adventure like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (Bradbury, 1987) will find their wish satisfied here. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
As Gabe and Raymond are in danger of freezing to death, Ray recalls his mother saying, "Life is the greatest gift," which gives the boys greater resolve to survive. Roommates at a boarding school in Yellowknife, the boys come from totally different cultures: Ray is a native from a remote Dene village in Canada while Gabe is a Texan. On an ill-fated flight, the boys must depend on each other when their plane goes down in a remote area of the Northwest Territory. With them is Johnny, an old man from Ray's village, who teaches them more survival skills before he dies, but finally it is the boys who must help each other. Grand scenic descriptions plus suspense and dramatic action make this a good story of friendship and survival. 1997 (orig.
The ALAN Review - William R. Mollineaux
When Clint, their bush pilot, promised that he was going to give them a sightseeing tour they'd never forget, fifteen-year olds Gabe Rogers and Raymond Providence had no idea that it was going to include a five-month survival struggle in Canada's Northwest Territories. After the destruction of their plane and Clint's death, Gabe and Raymond learn to survive through the help of Johnny Raven, Raymond's elderly great-uncle, a Native American. More important, they come to appreciate and understand Johnny's last words: "...take care of the land, take care of yourself, take care of each other." Readers who enjoyed Paulsen's Brian's Winter will find Hobbs's tale equally satisfying, as two boys from different cultures forge a bond and come to understand why tribal elders believe that young people must possess knowledge of the past in order to survive in the future.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 UpFrom the compelling cover illustration to the terrifying and plausible details, this survival adventure clearly demonstrates the author's love for and familiarity with the northern wilderness. Gabe, 15, formerly of San Antonio, enrolls in a boarding school in Canada's Northwest Territories to be closer to his father, an oil field worker. Gabe's likable but depressed roommate, Raymond, is an Athapascan Indian. A map helps readers follow along as circumstances involving a plane crash leave the teens and Johnny Raven, an elder from Raymond's village, stranded with minimal supplies as winter hardens. The plotting is fast paced and action filled as the teens' cultures clash, and as they struggle against the cold, blizzards, isolation, starvation, injury, a wolverine, grizzly bear, and Johnny's death before finally reaching safety. The weakest elements of the book may be the sermonlike "testament" the boys find in Johnny's pocket after his death, and the thread of mythic raven lore that is mentioned, then given up before becoming a major element again. Quibbles aside, with echoes as old as Jean Craighead George's classic My Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 1988) and reverberations from Paulsen and Phleger, this satisfying tale will engage YAs' hearts and minds.Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
After their plane and its pilot plunge over a thundering falls, 15-year-old Gabe, his DeneIndian boarding-school roommate Raymond, and the elderly DeneJohnny Raven are left stranded in the Canadian wilderness. The expected occurs: the wise old man calls on his deeply rooted knowledge of the land to keep the tiny group alive, leaving the boys to battle nature alone when he dies. You know Gabe survives, because he's telling the story, and as with many books in this genre, the characters (especially Johnny Raven, who's a total stereotype) are subordinated to the setting and action. Whether describing the burning of Johnny's corpse on a funeral pyre or depicting a battle with a bear, Hobbs drafts the events at just the right pace and with extraordinary detail. So, although this may be standard stuff, Hobbs' strong, sure hand ensures that it's never dull.
Stranded in an uninhabited area of Canada's Northwest Territories, two teenagers and an old Indian hunter face a winter so brutal residents call it "The Hammer." Gabe, 15, has come to boarding school in Yellow Knife to be nearer his oilman father. When his taciturn Athapaskan roommate, Raymond, quits school to fly back to his village, Gabe goes along. A spur-of-the- moment trip to see spectacular Virginia Falls turns into disaster when plane and pilot are swept away. Gabe and Raymond are left with a small cache of survival gear, plus a third passenger, Raymond's great-uncle, Johnny Raven, to keep them alive. Johnny teaches his two charges rudimentary survival skills, then finds them an old cabin in which to hole up before he dies. Weeks and repeated brushes with death later, the destruction of their food supply by a grizzly bear forces them into a grueling trek to Raymond's home. Although Hobbs (Beardance, 1993, etc.) doesn't write with the immediacy or meticulous attention to detail that Gary Paulsen brings to Brian's Winter (1996) or its prequel, Hatchet (1987), he summons plenty of uncontrived danger for his characters to face both foolishly and heroically. The conflict between modern and traditional ways is pervasive, as Raymond, a misfit in both worlds, struggles to find out who he is.