The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
One of the advantages of being in a book club, I find, is that it sometimes makes me read books I might not select on my own. The Hunger Games is a perfect example. Judging by the short content on the back cover, I would never ever have picked this book to read. Gruesome, terrible, not at all 'my kind' of book. I am not at all a fan of science fiction (if that's what this is).

However, my book club decided that we should read this first book in the series, mostly to find out what all the hype was about. My book club consists of about 6 - 8 women ranging in age from 19 to 80.

And so I took The Hunger Games home from the library and, hesitantly, starting reading.

I don't remember now how long it was before I was completely, totally hooked: in the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I could not put the book down. The writing was superb, the story riveting. And with today's popularity of reality TV shows, scary as it is, even has a ring of truth to it.

When my book club next met we discovered that the story had gripped each of us in a similar way. Each of us read all three books in a row:
Part 2: Catching Fire
Part 3: Mockingjay

Powerful writing! Highly recommended for YA and adults of all ages. Good discussion material in highschool.
I had no need at all to see the movie: as with all good books, I had already seen the movie in my head while reading. (for games, downloads)

Clementine, Sara Pennypacker

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

In this first book of the series, Clementine tries to help out her friend Margaret, but ends up in a lot of trouble for it. Things get worse each day of the week, until finally she's worried that Margaret is right: Clementine's parents might consider her to be "the hard one" in the family. They're up to something mysterious...are they thinking they'd be better off if they only had her little vegetable-named brother..."the easy one"?
I love Clementine because of her spunky, individual voice. Her character rings true and I can recognize real several little girls in her. A great example of 'voice', this is a wonderful book to read aloud at bedtime to 5 - 8 year olds.

Hyperion Books
Paperback, 160 pages

Review: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

I have enjoyed Susin Nielsen's previous books (Word Nerd and Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom). But this Governor General's award winning title blows you right of the water.
If you have ever watched news reports of bullying on TV, this book will hit home. Nielsen skillfully, tactfully, insightfully tackles a scary but important topic. All kids who have been subjected to bullying at school, all kids who have ever bullied someone else - for whatever reason - ought to read this book. And so should all teachers, parents and kids. Counselors, too.
The story features Henry whose brother has just committed an act of utter despair. The story is poignant, touching, funny and sad - all at once.
Read this aloud with your students to discuss the aftermath and deep reaching effects of bullying. Make this book mandatory for your students, for fellow teachers - it could possibly prevent similar heartbreak in real life.
A well crafted, fascinating read worthy of winning the highest praise in Canadian children's literature.
Oh, and if you read Word Nerd you will be pleasantly surprised to encounter Ambrose on the sidelines of this story.

Tundra Books
256 pages
ISBN: 978-1-77049-372-8 (1-77049-372-7)

Global Books

If you are a teacher or parent, interested in sharing meaningful books with children, here is a website you will enjoy:

Citizen Kid features books that deal with global awareness and topics such as micro lending and preservation. The website allows you to take actions and discussions beyond the book. Children can find out how they can help others and make a difference in the world.