Five, seventh grade students waited for their turn to the leave the classroom last spring. The Hunger Games was scheduled to open that Friday night.
“So, what do you guys think of The Hunger Games?” I asked my kids.
Never in my life have middle school students surrounded me. You would’ve thought I was a teenager in the Hunger Games surrounded by what Katniss Everdeen refers to as the “Career Tributes” instead of a substitute teacher.
“Oh, my gosh, you have to read it,” one kid said.
“It’s the best book I’ve ever read.”
“I’m going to the midnight movie,” the last one said.
I waited, nervous – in my soft-hearted way – to read about children dying. I am a teacher. I am a mother, and I had a dream my son was called into the Hunger Games. I knew at that point I could not read it.
But, I did read it.
It was good. Really good.
What I Took Away
The Hunger Games is a well-crafted novel that succeeds in reaching beyond the YA genre. The plot takes off quickly, and the reader learns about Katniss and her family through flashbacks. The flashbacks are rich in the way they add to Katniss Everdeen. The reader learns how she loved and admired her father.
Katniss remembers her father’s singing voice.
Peeta – District 12’s boy tribute – remembers Katniss singing at their school when they were much younger.
After her father’s death, she does not believe in the need for music until she meets a 12 year old tribute, Rue. The child, who is strong in her own right, says music is a big part of her life. She sings a song or signal that a bird, called a mockingjay, later copies.
Katniss is hesitant to sing until she is once again faced with unexpected grief. She lost her father, and finally sang again when she faced the death of a friend inside the The Hunger Games arena.
The beautiful singing voice of Katniss’ father and Rue’s enjoyment of music is a small factor in the book. Yet, it reminds Katniss of the humanity that still exists in a country controlled by the Capitol. The people in District 12, as Rue tells Katniss, sing when the work day is finished.
“ … There’s a special little song I do,” says Rue. She opens her mouth and sings a little four-note run in a sweet, clear voice. “and the mockingjays spread it around the orchard …” (p.212)
In a world where there is little to no freedom, author, Suzanne Collins, reminds the reader that her characters still live or discover life in a country where life is not highly valued by those of the Capitol.
People are starving.
Twenty-four tributes fight once a year in a Hunger Games until only one is left.
Freedom does not exist.
Katniss, Rue, Peeta and even the back story of Katniss’ father demonstrates there are those who will continue to value life.
For a full summary, visit http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/about-the-book.htm
By Rebecca T. Dickinson