Friday, May 6, 2011

Fictional Friday 1 (into the Hunger Games)

Gale, Prim, Coin, Effie, Kat, Snow, Boggs, Saliva, Cinna, Beetee, Wiress, Chaff, Rue…Nope, you aren’t at a Hippie Convention.  These are the names of characters in the Hunger Games series. 

The Hunger Games series does not have the same draw with adults that the Twilight and Harry Potter series seem to have.  However, many public schools (at least three districts where I live) have it as required reading for a class, so many middle school and junior high school students have read them.  I’ll start with a brief summary of the series for the moms who haven’t read the books. *Beware, spoilers ahead*

Katniss is the main character throughout the series.  She is tough, emotionally distant, and generally clueless about her own power throughout the story line.  She gets stuck in a love triangle with Gale and Peeta (the first is the home-town hunter and the second competes in the Games with Katniss).  Death hangs over her head in various manners in each of the stories.  She triumphs despite incredible odds against her.

The books are centered around a future society where the government rules by fear.  Two children, one boy and one girl, from each of the 12 districts are chosen at random each year to compete in The Hunger Games (hence the title).  The Hunger Games are basically ancient Roman gladiator games; you can attract sponsors who will give you gifts that will help you, you have to kill your opponents, the “coliseum” is rigged with deadly traps to make things interesting.  Most importantly, this is all done for the amusement of the Capital.  The prize won by the district with the last child alive is an increase in food, thus less of their citizens will die of hunger that year. 

The second book is again a competition in the “coliseum” but with adults (some very old) and our young protagonists.  The third book is the rebel’s fight against the Capital.  Katniss is dragged into the rebel’s fight and made into their propaganda tool.  In the end, the rebels win (using horrible methods) and Katniss is in a position to take out their ruthless leader…which she does. 

I am oversimplifying quite a bit, but I wanted to give you a foundation to stand on so that as we look at this more in depth you have an idea of what is going on.  Some of the topics we will be looking at are:
  • Sacrifice
  • Humility
  • Love (Romance)
  • Family relations
  • Gender Roles
  • Trust (Peers and Adults)
  • Isolation (Loneliness and Abandonment)
  • Death (Fear of and Fascination with)
  • Power
  • Destiny/Luck

I can not say that I liked these books much.  My emotional reaction when reading the books was generally cranky and sad.  My kids didn’t like talking to me when I was reading them. J  I do see a few positive elements in the stories.  There were some nicely handled themes of a strong physical community, the manipulation of media, and the need to see the real truth. 
I would love to hear from others on these books!  There are not as many forums and the forums out there are not very busy.  I would love to hear what you enjoyed about each character you liked.  How did you feel about the killing in the books?  What were your favorite scenes in the book?  Why would you recommend these books to someone else?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Posting schedule

Since I am done with the Twilight series (for now) I will be switching my posting schedule to Tuesdays and Fridays; instead of Twilight Tuesdays it will be Fictional Friday.  I know how corny it sounds, but that kind of clich├ęd stuff is easy to remember.  :)

I will start this Fictional Friday by looking at the Hunger Games series.  I am looking for some kids and/or moms who have read the series.  If I could get some feedback to a couple questions I have it would help me considerably.  The thing is...I don't know a lot of teens who have read the books.  If you know of any who would be willing to help me out, please let me know!

Thank you and see you on Friday.

Wisdom at Fort Rapids

My son wanted to go to Fort Rapids, as a family, for his birthday.  It was great fun and I got a chance to sit and write for a bit.  I was amazed to list out all the ways that wisdom was needed at an indoor water park!  I thought I would share with you the thoughts I had about daily wisdom and discernment.

Some were obvious:  no running on the wet slippery floors and making sure everyone knew where our towels and stuff were.  We made sure that everyone had a buddy and stayed with their buddy.  Buddies could rotate but you never leave a man behind. ;)  We also had to think ahead to pack goggles, coins for the lockers, and big fluffy towels. 

Some things though were not so obvious.  We had to walk out with three very disappointed children the first time we went because we didn’t think to verify which days the water park was open (tip: they are not open on Tuesdays in the winter).  Once we got there on the correct day, we had to remind our children to accept the correction of the life guards graciously.  While I thought that should be obvious, I can tell you that I saw plenty of children that day who had obviously not received these instructions. 

Our family has a standard of modesty that is higher than our current culture’s.  Our children exercised discernment in what was appropriate to wear; as well as, discern that it was not okay to lecture the teeny-bopper on her choice of attire (or lack thereof).

Our children were generally good at being aware of the other children around them.  They watched out for young toddlers and other less-steady swimmers.  They stayed out of the way of rambunctious teens and adults.  They didn’t stare at couples who “forgot” they were in public and sat cuddling and kissing.

We had to exercise self-discipline as a family in getting out the door on time.  We also had to get our school work done first (and whining just slows the whole process). 

I read a wonderful book a couple years ago called Last Child in the Woods.  This book impressed upon me the need to allow my children to explore without constantly reining them in or micromanaging their every move.  I no longer tell them to “be careful” but to “be smart.”  In the case of my oldest, who will charge into things without thinking, I will say, “be slow and be smart.”  I want them to know their limits but I don’t want them to be limited by them. 

It feels a bit strange to pick apart one day like this.  I am glad I did though, because I can see how wonderful it is when my children do exercise wisdom.  I can point out to them the benefits they received from practicing discernment, self-discipline, and thinking ahead.  Hopefully, this encouragement will help them to see these benefits for themselves in the future.