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In-character Writing – A Matter of Perspective

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Year 10 students have been busily writing as a character from The Hunger Games. The task was to create a piece of writing based on The Hunger Games. Students were to retell an event from a fresh perspective.

I have really enjoyed reading the stories and will add some of them to this blog.

The first one is from the perspective of an Avox. Avox means ‘without a voice’ in Latin. Avoxes are rebels and to punish them the Capitol has ordered that their tongues are cut out. They become servants that must wait upon the citizens of the Capitol and tributes.

The story is by Cameron.

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Your Next Read

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YourNextRead is a website for people that love to read but do not always have lots of time to search for their next book. The enormous volume and choice of books you can find both online and in bookstores these days is both fantastic and daunting. YourNextRead aims to make discovering, buying and enjoying a book as simple as finding your next film or band.

Give it a go!

Dystopian Fiction Booklist

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I know many of you really enjoy reading dystopian novels. If you are looking for something new to read, check out this list on goodreads.

If I Stay

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If I Stay is a novel by Gayle Forman that I have recommended before. Wikipedia describes If I Stay is a young adult novel and thriller. The story follows 17-year-old Mia as she deals with the aftermath of a catastrophic car accident involving her family. In a coma, Mia has an out-of-body experience, and watches as friends and family gather at the hospital where she is being treated. Mia watches as her memories flash before her eyes as she comes to realize that she must decide if she is to wake up and lead a life far more difficult than she ever anticipated, or to slip away and die.

The novel is being turned into a film starring Chloe Moretz as Mia and Jamie Blackley as Adam.

Little, Blonde, Innocent, and Dead

Really interesting post from Maria Tatar at The New Yorker. It discusses how little blonde girls came to be “indelibly equated with innocence” who redeem sinful adults through sacrificial deaths.

Days after “The Hunger Games” opened at movies theatres, few commentators noted that the once-sacred prohibition against the on-screen killing of children had been spectacularly violated. Instead, cyberspace lit up with messages about the ethnicity of the tributes from District 11, Thresh and Rue, two deeply sympathetic characters who become sacrificial victims in the Hunger Game’s pageant of violence. One of those tweets was particularly radioactive: “Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.” It quickly went viral, raising the question, as Anna Holmes wrote on the Book Bench recently, of how “little blonde” girls came to be indelibly equated with innocence.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/04/the-hunger-games-and-the-little-blonde-innocents-tradition.html#ixzz1rrpXu7Cz

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel

We have used The Kite Runner with a number of classes over the years and it remains a firm favourite with many students. So, it’s good news that the perennial bestseller-now available as a sensational new graphic novel.

Since its publication in 2003, nearly 7 million readers have discovered The Kite Runner. Through Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to vivid life for readers. Now, in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel adaptation, Hosseini brings his compelling story to a new generation of readers.

The end of the world, as written under the radar

The Hunger Games is a popular book at the College and one Year 11 class is studying it. Why is it so popular? Here’s what The Irish Times had to say:

… The Hunger Games trilogy is set in the nearish future. Civilisation has collapsed, in the US at least, which is now known as Panem and divided into 12 districts, all ruled by a central state called the Capitol. Every year each district offers up two children, who then fight to the death in a vast and complex arena while the nation watches on television. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen’s little sister Prim is chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place.

Collins was strongly influenced by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. “In punishment for past deeds Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur,” she said recently. “Even as a kid I could appreciate how ruthless this was. Crete was sending a very clear message: ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.’ And the thing is, it was allowed; the parents sat by powerless to stop it. Theseus, who was the son of the king, volunteered to go. I guess, in her own way, Katniss is a futuristic Theseus.”

Collins has also spoken of being inspired by reality television. “I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’s story came to me. One night I’m sitting there flipping around, and on one channel there’s a group of young people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe? And on the next there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.”

But reality shows and ancient myth aren’t the only familiar elements of the books. There are traces of everything from Death Race 2000 to The Running Man , although the most obvious possible influence is Battle Royale . Made into a successful film in 2000, the Japanese writer Koushun Takami’s 1999 novel is also set in a dystopian future in which the government controls the populace by forcing randomly selected groups of schoolchildren to fight to the death.

But while Battle Royale is a cult classic, it never became a mainstream international hit. So what is it about Hunger Games that has caught the imagination? It’s partly down to their charismatic, flawed heroine. Katniss is brave and tough, headstrong yet self-aware. The relationships between the characters are pleasingly complex. Collins isn’t a particularly elegant writer, but she’s a fantastic storyteller. There’s a lot to enjoy. As the author said recently: “Some are attracted to the dystopian world, others are there for action and adventure, still others for the romance. The readers are defining the book in very personal and exciting ways.”

Read more here.

Yes, teen fiction can be dark – but it shows teenagers they aren’t alone

Young-adult fiction shows that bad things happen, and that you can survive. How is that objectionable? This from The Guardian:

“If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is.” So claims Meghan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal this week. YA, or young adult literature, is a flourishing area in the United States and, increasingly, around the world. And the claims made in the article are not new to those of us in the teen fiction world. The argument appears to be:

1. YA literature is becoming too dark.

2. Darkness in YA literature is inappropriate, and denotes a slipping of moral standards.

The unsubstantiated point number one is used to argue the specious point two – namely, that talking about bad things normalises or even encourages them. The evidence offered for the first point is a walk through a bookstore with a confused parent. As for the second, the idea that “darkness” doesn’t belong in stories makes me wonder if the author of this article has ever read any Poe, Dickens, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Tolstoy or … almost any other author, ever. Or the Bible, for that matter. Or the news. For non-dark, age-appropriate reading, she chooses Fahrenheit 451, a lighthearted romp that features suicide, teenagers who run cars into people, mechanical hounds that hunt living creatures for blood sport and nuclear war. It’s a fantastic book, but its inclusion implies that the author of the article has a slippery definition of the term “dark”. The fact that she breaks this list into books for girls and books for boys is another subject entirely.

Read the rest here.