Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Dan Versus Nature

Calame, Don (Author)
Candlewick Press 2016. 378 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9780763670719 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The last thing Dan wants is more drama. He’s already getting enough of that at Willowvale High School, where he and his “wiseass” pal Charlie get their heads punched in on a regular basis by the wrestling team. So when scrawny Dan meets Hank, his mother’s all-smiles, Captain America look-alike fiancé, he isn’t happy. His mother’s heart has been broken before by boyfriends who seem nice—until they turn out to be grown-up versions of his bullies and they skip out.

This raucous coming-of-age story keeps you turning the pages like the best of thrillers, while entertaining you with its comedy. All Dan wants to do is help things along. He knows that Hank will skip out soon. They all do. When Dan’s mother sends him and Hank on a wilderness bonding expedition, Charlie comes along to help execute a series of pranks designed to irritate this new wannabe dad, forcing him to take off and leave Dan’s family alone.

When they get lost in the wilderness with their fellow travellers, including a sarcastic high schooler named Penelope, things don’t seem so bad. “I take a deep breath of the fresh forest air.… It makes me feel good, strong—like I could hike a thousand miles.” But then come the poison ivy, wasps, deer urine and one angry bear. Maybe there is room for Hank in Dan’s life after all.

  •  

    The text uses humour and multiple attempts to subvert traditional family bonding experiences to allow its teen protagonists to assert their identities and test social boundaries. Discuss your experiences with camping and other outdoor adventures.

  •  

    In small book club groups, discuss the way Dan, Charlie and Penelope adhere to or detract from conventional representations of adolescents. Use examples from the text to back up your ideas.

  •  

    Following reading and small group discussions, use a production process to create a guide for surviving a wilderness trip.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development