Northwind by Gary Paulsen is a tale of survival and a deepening connection to nature, like Paulsen’s most famous book Hatchet. Northwind deals with a journey at sea, set against the backdrop of Viking-era Scandinavia and woven through with Nordic mythology. Leif, an orphan, is put on a boat at sea to escape a plague at home and told only “Go north.” To follow this directive, the 12-year-old must battle the elements of air and sea to survive. Paulsen’s writing, as always, is sparse but lyrical, clear-eyed about both nature’s cruelty and its beauty: “Out of the inlet and into the bigger channel the moon-currents were flooding north and he rode them.” (Chapter Books)