Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"By the Book" with today's guest: The Talented Mr. Whitley

"Sense, he had to use his sense. That's all it took to solve problems - sense"
Hatchet by Gary Paulson

By the Book is a popular series featured in the New York Times. Authors are asked the same set of questions about writing, life and reading. We decided to borrow that great idea and asked teachers and staff to respond to some of the questions. Mr. Whitley, grade four teacher, graciously responded and his answers are below.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
As a child, I was a reluctant reader until I was in fifth grade and I read the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and then I was hooked. I fell in love with Paulsen's books because of the outdoor adventures that the characters found themselves in, and the way that his writing makes the stories come alive. I found out later that Gary Paulsen himself is a big outdoorsman who had competed in the Iditarod so the things he was writing about were first-hand knowledge. 

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
My ideal reading experience would be in my living room surrounded by my family all reading books in front of our fireplace on a blustery winter snow day.  

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?
I learned how to replace the throttle lever to my weed whacker from reading a nonfiction text, the owners manual. I was so pleased with myself because the part was only $4 and I saved a lot of money being able to replace it myself.  

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I would invite Gary Paulsen, Jean Craighead George (My Side of the Mountain) and Donald Hall (Oxcart Man).

Many thanks to Mr. Whitley for sharing this delightful post. Are there other Hatchet fans out there? Is there a book that changed your attitude toward reading? Comments are welcome! Please add your thoughts in the section below.


  1. Hatchet was the last story I had to listen to and read with Natalie in the evenings. Since then she doesn't need me to help her with homework. Thank you for the memory. And thank you reading the manual teehee

  2. It wasn't until a few years ago that I read Hatchet and loved it! It such a fascinating tale.

  3. I LOVE Gary Paulson! He writes such excellent adventures--I can't put them down!

  4. Your enthusiasm for Hatchet and other outdoorsy books is so apparent during your class read aloud. You really get the students invested.