Tolkien Naylor Dog Sniffs Out Paulsen Boy

Alison Morris - March 21, 2007

By now many of you may already have read, in PW or elsewhere, about the Boy Scout who was rescued yesterday in North Carolina, after having been missing for four days. Did you read, though, that his father thought it possible his survival might be due in part to his love of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? And did you also read that the dog who rescued him was named Gandalf? AND that Gandalf is a Shiloh Shepherd? A bit of digging reveals that Shiloh Shepherds got their breed name from the kennel where they were originally bred and not from the book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. But I still like the confluence of children's book names in this story.


If you are going to send your kids off on a camping trip I would also suggest arming them with a copy of Alabama Moon by Watt Key, which was undoubtedly one of the best, most kid-friendly books I read in 2006 and one of the best survival stories I've read in years. It's currently my long-running favorite book to handsell to kids (especially boys) between the ages of 9 and 13. Why? Because they all (even the most reluctant readers) come back RAVING it about it, and with good reason.

Here's the review I wrote of Alabama Moon when I first read it, almost a year ago:

There are some books that have all the right ingredients, all the right characters, and all the right outcomes: This is one of them. With the writing of his first novel Watt Key has softened the pluck and spirit of Huckleberry Finn, slipped them into the bones of a 21st century boy, and in so doing, arrived. Filled with spunk and fever and a wild, sweet goodness, Alabama Moon is a soul-satisfying, kid-centric story staged with pecan trees, pine logs, and a cast of characters you can't help but love. Will kids like it? Oh, good heavens, yes. Scout's honor. I predict that wilderness skills will soon be en vogue again and suggest that a special Moon badge be awarded to every kid who reads this book.

7 thoughts on “Tolkien Naylor Dog Sniffs Out Paulsen Boy

  1. M

    I too have thought about the fact that if I were ever lost in the woods of the Canadian north or some such place, I would most definitely apply the knowledge I gained while reading Paulsen’s Hatchet. Being a city boy, who knows how long it would take me to think about making a fire by striking some metal against a cave wall. I fully support the belief that Hatchet helped this boyscout survive…and even if it didn’t, I like the idea anyway.


    I recently read HATCHET for the first time and was surprised at how often the boy in the book credits some of his survival ideas to things he saw on television. Not complaining; just observing. It’s a terrific book.

  3. ShelfTalker

    Jill, dahling, I think it’s time YOU wrote a survival story of your own! Maybe about surviving high school or surviving on a bookseller’s salary or surviving the rainy season in Portland… Take your pick! xo, a.

  4. Gretchen

    Great post. I am an enormous fan of the E.B. White award, and I just blogged about it. You can check it out on my blog: I’m so glad to hear that this year’s winner is so good! Can’t wait to read it! I ordered it from my fave little local children’s book in Illinois, so I am waiting right now — but I have The Mysterious Benedict Society to keep me company in the meantime.


    Alison, you loveable dork, surviving each of those three things is so much harder than surving in the woods for your entire life! How could I even begin to attempt…! On a separate note, have you read “The Green Glass Sea”? Also FANTASTIC!


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