15 Secrets to Survival

by Natalie D Richards (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

New York Times bestselling author Natalie D. Richards's middle grade debut about a group of four classmates forced to navigate the wilderness for an extra credit project with nothing but the pages of a survival handbook--and each other--to save them.

When classmates Baxter, Abigail, Turner and Emerson break a school rule, they're forced to travel to the middle of nowhere for an extra credit project. They think things can't get much worse. After all, how will learning to survive in the wilderness help them stay out of trouble in school?

What starts off as a weekend of team building takes a scary turn when their instructor goes missing and they are given nothing but pages of a survival guide to complete a series of challenges.

They soon learn the woods around them have unexpected surprises. Will they discover a way to work together to find their teacher and overcome the dangers of winter in the mountains?

A recommended choice for classroom discussions on earth science and educators looking for survival books for kids.

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Kirkus Reviews

Both exciting and revelatory.

Publishers Weekly

All his life, 12-year-old Baxter Phillips has been part of what his mother coined "The Getalong Gang," a playgroup comprised of her and her best friends' children. In addition to gamer Baxter, there's perfectionist Emerson and her gentle-giant twin brother Turner Casella, and Abigail Walters, a competitive gymnast with confidence in spades. The problem is, the four middle schoolers rarely get along. When the tweens' tension comes to a head during a school-sponsored trivia contest, they're disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. As further punishment, they're forced to complete a group extra-credit assignment, which involves the gang being sent to stay with Baxter's survivalist great-uncle Hornsby in the Montana winter wilderness, an event intended to teach them teamwork. But when Uncle Hornsby sets up an elaborate network of interconnected puzzles, Turner, Emerson, Abigail, and Baxter, along with his feisty younger sister Vivi, rush to solve the puzzles with the help of pages from Hornsby's self-written guide to survival--until something goes awry with Hornsby's plans. Immediate first-person, present-tense prose keeps the emotional resonance high in this fast-paced adventure that features a charging moose, potential hypothermia, and plenty of friendship drama. Characters read as white. Ages 8-12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Nov.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6--Because their parents are best friends, Baxter, Abigail, Turner, and Emerson have been thrown together since they were babies, even being dubbed "The Get-along Gang." But the group is very different now, and they haven't actually been real friends in years. In fact, they actively dislike one another. When a school project goes awry due to "inappropriate use of the text chat feature," their parents decide to send the four off to Baxter's eccentric uncle, an ex-camp counselor and wilderness expert, for a weekend teamwork bootcamp in western Montana. Things do not go well. First there's the addition of Baxter's 18-month-old sister, Vivi, to their group (and the horror of changing her diapers). Then Uncle Hornsby unexpectedly goes missing, leaving the kids with nothing to guide them but a few pages of a survival handbook. This highly readable thriller highlights four kids with unique talents, all of which become crucial to complete their seemingly impossible task. Excellent characterization, rich details, and an exciting setting bring every harrowing adventure to life as the kids learn the value of working together, and the value of one another's strengths and passions. VERDICT A teamwork-oriented update of Hatchet, this fast-paced adventure story is recommended for all collections.--Rebecca Kirshenbaum

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The narrative presents believable moments of danger infused with the protagonists' unwillingness to cooperate and a well-crafted realization of individual strengths, weaknesses, and friendship....Both exciting and revelatory." —Kirkus Reviews

Natalie D Richards
Natalie D. Richards is the New York Times bestselling author of Four Found Dead, Seven Dirty Secrets, Five Total Strangers, Six Months Later, and One Was Lost among other young adult thrillers. 15 Secrets to Survival is her middle grade debut. Natalie lives in Ohio with her three children and a ridiculously furry dog named Wookiee. Visit her on Instagram @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Delacorte Press
Publication date
November 07, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV001010 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure | Survival Stories
JUV020000 - Juvenile Fiction | Interactive Adventures
Library of Congress categories

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