The River

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"We want you to do it again." These words, spoken to Brian Robeson, will change his life. Two years earlier, Brian was stranded alone in the wilderness for fifty-four days with nothing but a small hatchet. Yet he survived. Now the government wants him to do it again--to go back into the wilderness so that astronauts and the military can learn the survival techniques that kept Brian alive. This time he won't be alone: Derek Holtzer, a government psychologist, will accompany him to observe and take notes. But during a freak storm, Derek is hit by lightning and falls into a coma. Their radio transmitter is dead. Brian is afraid that derek will die of dehydration unless he can get him to a doctor. His only hope is to build a raft and try to transport Derek a hundred miles down the river to a trading post--if the map he has is accurate.
Curriculet Details
36 Questions
31 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for middle school students contains interactive videos exploring foreshadowing and conflict, as well as annotations describing inner monologue, character point of view, and motivation. Students will explore the themes of survival and determination. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Why is Brian leery of the three strange men in his home? 
Why are Derek, Bill, and Erik seeking Brian out? 

Chapter 2

Watch the video below about character development. The highlighted passage tells us about Brian. What can we learn about Brian's experience and how it changed him? (This annotation contains a video)
In the highlighted passage, Brian says he is more than before The Time.  What does he mean? 
This is another example of Brian's character development. How does this passage help us understand Brian and how he sees the world? 

Chapter 3

How did being in the wilderness change Brian's perspective on the way the world works? 
What could the small feeling Brian feels in this passage be? 
What is Brian's true motivation for returning to the wilderness? 

Chapter 4

This is an example of a bush plane similar to the one Brian and Derek are flying in. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below about flashbacks. How does using the flashbacks in this manner help us understand Brian and his motivation better? (This annotation contains a video)
What is Brian's definition of hunger? 
Why do the supplies and Derek's enthusiasm over having it all bother Brian so much? 

Chapter 5

Why does Brian watch the pilot land the plane? 
In this passage, Brian becomes the animal he mentioned in Chapter 2. Watch the passage below about imagery. How can you see the behavior shift in Brian through the imagery? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Brian adamant about leaving the supplies on the plane? 
There are two different points of view at this moment. We see Derek's view of being safe and having resources. We also see Brian's view of making the experience real instead of a game. How do the two different points of view affect how they see this experience? 

Chapter 6

Why is Brian reacting differently than Derek when the mosquitoes come? 
Reread this passage. The imagery of this passage reminds Brian of what he loved about the wilderness. How does the imagery help us understand Brian's point of view on nature. 

Chapter 7

Which literary element does the highlighted passage use to describe the rain storm? 
Why does Brian have trouble telling Derek what he's thinking? 
Below is a picture of a grub worm. Imagine having no other choice but to eat them for food. Brian is able to talk about it like it isn't a big deal, but Derek reacts with a cringe. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Brian rely so much on luck? 

Chapter 8

Why is finding the flint stone and being able to make a fire important? 
Why does Brian think about and talk to the fire as he would another human? 
Chapters 1-8 Quiz 

Chapter 9

Brian's inner monologue shares with us his discontent over the situation. How does this affect the tone of the situation. 
What is the definition of tension that fits Brian's feeling? 
Reread the highlighted passage. This is an example of foreshadowing. What can you predict will happen next? 

Chapter 10

How does the imagery of the thunderstorm affect the tone of the story? 

Chapter 11

Why doesn't Brian want to think Derek is dead? 
Brian wakes in survival mode. He is continually looking for options to get help. How does Brian try to help Derek? 
Why does Brian force himself to believe Derek is just knocked out? 

Chapter 12

Why does Brian feel anger and resentment? 
Why does Brian need to think of Derek as a random person instead as a person he knows? 

Chapter 13

How is Brian working to keep Derek alive? 
How can the map be useful? 

Chapter 14

Why is Brannock's Post so important to Brian? 
Watch the video below about internal and external conflict. Which conflict is Brian facing right now? (This annotation contains a video)
What choice does Brian have? 

Chapter 15

What does Brian see as the largest obstacle to success? 
This is an example of a beaver dam. This scene would be similar to what Brian sees. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does traveling down the river scare Brian? 

Chapter 16

Why is Brian telling Derek that they were traveling down the river? 
Do you feel hopeful or worried about Brian and Derek's journey? 
Chapters 9-16 Quiz 

Chapter 17

Brian is learning to sail and navigate quickly. Since he has never done this before, he is learning by trial and error. Would he travel quicker if he had prior knowledge of sailing? 
Why does he decide to take a break for ten minutes every hour? 
Reread the highlighted passage. In this context, what does cut down mean? 
Do you think the dark will affect their travel? 

Chapter 18

Reread this passage. When Brian describes swiping the mosquitos which was like brushing smoke, which literary element is he using? 
Why is Brian struggling to keep moving? 
Why is Brian having bad thoughts? Is he seriously considering killing Derek? 

Chapter 19

What is Brian realizing about the map? 
The picture below is similar to what Brian built for the river trip. See how the canopy is small and wouldn't cover Derek completely. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is it hard for Brian to appreciate the beauty of the river? 
Is Brian correct in believing that his injuries and the heat don't matter as much as continuing on? 

Chapter 20

Why is the increase in speed something that makes Brian nervous? 
What makes Brian think they are approaching a waterfall? 

Chapter 21

In the highlighted passage, the raft takes on a life of its own. Which literary element is this an example of? 
How does the descriptive language used in Brian's fight for air increase the tension for the reader? 

Chapter 22

In Chapter 18, Brian momentarily wished Derek was dead. Now he's panicked because Derek and the raft are gone. How does this show Brian's true nature? 
What motivates Brian to keep swimming and searching? 

Chapter 23

What does Brian mean when he says he became something other than himself? 
Why does Brian think it likely that Derek died? 

Chapter 24

What does Brian really mean when he says he was done? 


Knowing that Derek's coma was not severe, did Brian make the right decision to go down the river? 
Why do Brian's parents never want to let him return to the wilderness? 
Why does Derek buy Brian a canoe? 
Chapters 17-24 Quiz