The Hunger Games

Big Brother meets Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in a savage arena filled with fool proof means for torture and murder.

The basic storyline is a simple, though driven and dripping with action. Basically, the Capitol uses the Hunger Games a yearly reminder that they are supreme rulers above all citizens in Panem. Annually, May 8th to be exact, two tributes are chosen from each of the twelve remaining districts to attend the Capitol and partake in the savage competition. Only one tribute is to be chosen victor after weeks of human hunting. The Hunger Games are televised across the nation. Katniss, our antagonist, recalls that this is the only time District 12 gets trustworthy electricity.

Collins’s use of symbolism actually sent me to Google in search of classic symbolic definitions. Katniss sees the dandelion as a vision of hope and possibility prior to her arrival at the Capitol. I was disappointed that Collins did not continue this vivid reference into the arena but instead draws in prominent yellow items such as a bright orange backpack that ultimately proves to be Katniss’s life line and a yellow dress at just the right time. In my opinion, either bright item can replace the vivid imagery of the dandelion.

hunger backSuzanne Collins beautifully creates a post apocalyptic world driven by starvation and fear. Though I will admit to throwing the book at the wall, it was more out of frustration at what Makenzie has informed me is the cliffhanger than the vivid storyline. The Hunger Games is action packed and a very quick read. I would, however, be weary allowing children younger than twelve access to young adult novel due to the true savagery embedded within the pages.

Let me clarify, though Makenzie is nine and read The Hunger Games before me, in fact, she reads much more mature content than many children her age. Makenzie wanted to write the review for this particular selection as one instead of hers and mine. Here is Makenzie’s opinion in her own words:
I liked the Hunger Games because it is filled with adventure and risk. The risk makes it exciting because if characters chose the wrong decision it could mean certain death. Also, adventure makes the story exciting because you never know what the next setting or adventure will be. In my opinion risk and adventure combined make a great story.

The Dollhouse Murders

    The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright is about twelve year old Amy as she tries to uncover the mysteries of the dollhouse. Dolls move by themselves, lights go on and off and murders are revealed.

    Amy’s great-grandparents were murdered but the murderer was never found. Amy’s Aunt Clare suspects her fiance Tom was the murderer because he was drunk and angry at her grand parents the night of the murder. The true killer comes as a shock to all!
   Secondary character Louann, Amy's younger sister, is mentally handicap. In the beginning of the story, Amy believes Louann is a burden because she always has to care for her. This makes it difficult for Amy to keep friends and therefore makes it difficult for Amy to appreciate and love her younger sister. Through the aid of the dollhouse mystery, Amy learns to love Louann and have friends while taking care of Louann.
    This book was nominated for the Edgar Award for the best mystery book in 1984. Two years later, it  was chosen for the Young Reader’s Choice Award in 1986, an award given out by the kids from the Pacific Northwest. The Dollhouse Murders also received the Mark Twain Award for humor the same year. I think it clearly deserved all these awards because it was a great book.


The Aztecs lived in the Valley of Mexico hundreds of years after the Mayans disappeared. The Aztecs were like the Mayans in many ways. For example they had many gods, drank chocolate and ate corn, they built pyramids with stairs and they lived in cities.

The Mayans pyramids are nothing compared to the Aztecs pyramids.
The Aztecs capital city, Tenochtitlan, was built on an island in the middle of a lake. According to legend the god Huitzilopotchli told them to build their capital city on the spot where they saw an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake. They searched for hundreds of years until one day a priest saw a eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake.

Here is the legend of Tenochtitlan.

Bridge to Teribithia

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson

As ten-year-old Jesse Aarons trains each morning to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, Leslie Burke moves into the house next door in rural Virginia. The families are as different as night and day. While Jesse's dad works hard to make ends meet, Leslie's family is considered rich for the time and only moves to the area to give Leslie a calmer life. Alone, they are lonely and desperately strive to fit it. Together, they build a whole new world no one else can enter. In this process, they learn to appreciate themselves and everyone around them. Jesse even finds a new appreciation for the plethora of women living in his house. For close to eight wonderful months, the pair is nearly inseparable in a land called Terabithia.
Terabithia is a pretend kingdom Jesse and Leslie create in the forest across the river. A land free from ordinary life. In fact, a streak of horrid rainy weather becomes an evil curse from some evil being and becomes Leslie and Jess's task to free Terabithia from this awful curse. This may sound silly to the adult reader, but it is incredibly important that young readers see the value in make believe. Bill and Judy Burke believe television rots the mind. Once Leslie starts speaking of Narnia and other literary worlds, Jesse soon sees the importance of books as well. This is a lesson seldom taught in today's society and this short novel may be just the way to get the point across.

The climax is one I never expected. It is very difficult to discuss the literary merit of the storyline without spoiling the end. (continue reading at your own risk) While Jesse takes a trip to the city with the school music teacher, Leslie chooses to cross the creak to Terabithia on her own. The rope breaks and Leslie drowns. Though this might come as a shock to young readers, the situation gives children a glimpse into a life we, as parents, hope they never experience in reality. Readers are able to see Jesse transition through his grief and eventually come to terms with the incident.

Bridge to Terabithia will remain a timeless classic. Though a few simple references place the novel in 1977 when it was published, the simple storyline of bullies and coming of age will keep readers interested for years to come.

1978 Newbery Medal Winner
IL: MG - BL: 4.6 - AR Pts: 5.0