2011 The Hunger Games

2011 Winner - The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins 

In the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, television dominates everything.  The 12 districts each must provide “tributes” for the entertainment of the residents.  To be chosen as a “tribute” means a trip to the Capital city, a more prosperous life for your family, and the chance to star in the greatest reality show in the universe!  But there’s a catch – tributes must fight each other and only one can survive!

When her younger sister is chosen as a tribute, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place.  She finds herself in a literal fight for her life and in the odd position of also fighting her emotions as she struggles to survive and not lose her humanity.

This is a real page-turner.  The characters are very believable and the reader gets sucked into a world that is both exciting and deadly.  There are lots of twists and turns and, yes, violence and death.  Who will live to continue the story? 

Booktalk by Diane Ferbrache, Teacher-Librarian
Hazen High School Librarian

Booktalk #2

[At the start of your booktalks leave two pieces of paper folded in half on the seats of some of the chairs: in the center of each have a large red "X".] 

Has anyone got a lottery slip on their chair? [Invite the two up

Congrltuations! You've won the hunger games lottery for your district. You get to go to the Capitol and play in the Hunger Games arena! It's going to be on T.V. It's more popular than American Idol and Survivor combined: everyone in the world watches! [Ask teens in turn

Do you know how to fight with a knife? A gun? Do you know how to set traps? Handle explosives? How fast can you run? Swim? Climb? [Wait for answers] That's too bad. The winners from the rich districts have been training all their lives. They're Olympic-caliber athletes who know how to shoot and fight.  I don't suppose either of you has much change of beating them.

In the Hunger Games arena there is only one rule: kill or be killed. The last teenager left alive wins the game.

In Suzanne Collin's book The Hunger Games it's time for the lottery again. When Katniss' baby sister wins, she decides to take her place; to die for her. Katniss comes from the poorest district of all: she doesn't stand a chance.  Or does she? In the 12th district, she has to hunt for food for her family; to set traps; to fight wild animals to survive. And the boy chosen from her district is tough and strong, and her friend. Maybe she has a chance after all.

But only one person can survive the hunger games: so how far will Katniss go to live? 

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System

Booktalk #3

by Suzanne Collins 

It's the day of the Reaping, an annual ritual, an annual punishment, an annual reminder that rebelling against the Capitol is futile.  This afternoon all the residents of Panem will gather in the town square of each of its twelve districts to watch the drawing.  The names of all the children in every district between the ages of 12 and 18 have been put into large bowls filled with slips of paper.  One boy's name will be drawn, and one girl's.  They will represent their district in the Hunger Games.  All twenty-four will be trained for a week, then herded into an arena, where they will be forced to fight to the death, as the entire population watches on live television.  The winner is the last person left alive. 

Kitness is from District 12, the smallest and the most distant from the Capitol.  She's 16, and the sole support of her mother and younger sister.  She hunts for food to feed them, and to barter at the market for soap, or salt, or clothing.   That afternoon, she doesn't hear her own name called, but her little sister's!  Prim is only 12, this is her first Hunger Games, and as gentle and fragile as she is, she won't live long.  She wouldn't fight even if she knew how.  Kitness immediately fights her way through the crowd, and volunteers to take Prim's place.  She would be a part of this year's Hunger Games.

The boy's name is drawn, and Peeta, the baker's son, walks toward the stage, his face emotionless, stunned.  He doesn't look like he's ever missed a meal, muscular and strong.  Everyone in the town likes him, even Kitness.  He helped her once, long ago, when she was alone and desperate.  She's never forgotten, and from the looks he's giving her, he hasn't forgotten either.

In another world, they might have been friends, or more.  But in this world, they have to be enemies, prepared to kill each other.  In the Hunger Games, there is only one winner.

Booktalk by Joni Richards Bodart for Scholastic

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The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Eli's father is a billionaire. He built the secret underground compound to protect his family in the event of nuclear war. It has everything: movies, video games, clothing, food, heat, light and air.

When the unthinkable happened, Eli and his family barely made it to shelter in time. Eli's twin brother and his grandma perished in the nuclear holocaust outside. There's nothing left. But Eli and his family have enough supplies to last for 15 years, long enough for the deadly radiation to subside.  Which would be bad enough, but after six years underground, they discover that the food supplies are tainted. They don't have enough food and water to survive. Their father comes up with a plan to save them. He calls it "the supplements." It's beyond horrible. Is his father insane?

Eli thinks it might be better to take their chances with the irradiated world outside. That's when he discovers that there's only one door out of the compound. It's locked. His father has the only key--and he's hidden it. What other secrets is this man hiding from his family?

Eli is determined to beat his father and find a way out. But can he do it in time?

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Identified by her one green eye and one blue, Katsa is a graceling. She is one of the very few born with a special gift, or “grace.”

King Randa, Katsa's uncle, is one of seven kings that rule the seven kingdoms of the land. When she is eight, he recognizes her gift as the ability to kill. By the time she is eighteen, she has become his enforcer, sent to torture those whom Randa finds disloyal. 

Katsa hates her job and rebels by leading a 
secret council fighting for justice and fairness against the corrupt rules of the land. While rescuing the kidnapped father of the King of Lienid, Katsa meets Po, the king's son. Po is a silver- and gold-eyed graceling. They seem destined to be together. 

In a mortally dangerous mission, Katsa and Po set out to save Bitterblue who is held by King Leck. Though much admired, King Leck actually has the ability to deceive, and he uses it for his own evil purposes. Together, Katsa and Po stand a chance of success. But when Po becomes injured, Katsa must decide whether to save Po—or try to complete the mission alone. 

Booktalk from Mackin booktalks, author unidentified

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

[Have set of keys handy & also decorative key on chain if possible to introduce the book]

If you've read Sarah Dressen's Just Listen you already know her characters from their dialogue, and of course the title comes from within the pages.

So, Lock and Key is symbolic to this story: a key can both shut and open; close up and start up.  (show your house key and car key)

Ruby, abandoned by her alcoholic Mom and caught faking a family life, is awkwardly dropped into older sister Cora's successful suburban routine. Ruby's tough exterior independence slowly dissolves as she copes with  family, new school and cute but shy next door classmate Nate. 

And what about the symbol of the word lock? It refers to the Rubys abandoned old house, her true feelings ... and much more that you'll figure out as you read Lock and Key.

Booktalk by Lyla Anderson, Teacher-Librarian
Haller Middle School and Post Middle School Librarian

Booktalk #2

Do you think you could live alone, if your parents abandoned you? There you are in  your house: the bills need to be paid, you need to have food, you need to go to school. How long could you get away with it before anyone noticed?

In her little yellow house, Ruby does just that, after her mom takes off. It's almost impossibly hard, but it's hers.

It doesn't last. The authorities find out and soon she's halfway across the country staying with her sister,Cora. Ruby wonders what's wrong with her, why she can't stop aching for her old, difficult life, when everything is so perfect now. Her new family is kind and caring and nice. She lives in a beautiful new home, she's given nice clothes, good food. Her next door neighbor Nate is this great new guy. What's wrong with Ruby?

And what's wrong with Nate? He has secrets, too, and together Ruby and Nate might just be able to unlock each other's hearts. 

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System

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Little Brother 
by Cory Doctorow

Marcus Yallow, high school student and computer genius, was at war with the Department of Homeland Security. No he wasn’t a terrorist. He was a victim of the war on terror..

Marcus and his best friend Darryl had ditched school that particular afternoon, to be part of a four-person team playing the Alternate Reality Game Harajuki Fun Madness. The team had just met up at the cable cars in downtown San Francisco when terrorists blew up the Bay Bridge and the BART. In the chaos and confusion that followed, Marcus and two other team members were captured and mercilessly interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security.

After being released Marcus found that San Francisco was being turned into a prison in the name of security. The DHS had the power to spy on, detain, and interrogate anyone they wanted. All the technology Marcus loved was being turned against the public to invade their privacy and make them feel powerless. Even worse, Marcus’s family was being torn apart by their differences over the crackdown. 

The Department of Homeland Security had declared war on the privacy of everyone in San Francisco, the guilty and the innocent. Marcus could see that even if his father couldn’t. 

What he also knew was that if you use it right, technology could help you fight back. It was time for a counterattack.

Marcus Yallow and a group of online rebels called the Xnetters are fighting back against the privacy and civil rights violations that have turned San Francisco into a prison. Their plans are risky, but they just might work.

Booktalk by Tom Reynolds, Librarian and Author

Booktalk #2

It was just supposed to be a harmless afternoon of skipping school.  Techno-geek Marcus bypasses the school security to escape with his friends to spend the afternoon playing games.  But they certainly couldn't have known that a terrorist attack on San Francisco would change their lives forever.  Picked up by the Department of Homeland Security, Marcus is held in an undisclosed location for 6 days and faces intense interrogation.  When he is finally released, he is warned not to tell anyone where he has been.  San Franciso is now little more than a police state and the DHS is controlling everything. 

Just how much of their privacy will the population give up to feel secure?  Is there anyway that a group of teens can bring down the government?  Should they even try? 

Booktalk by Nancy Keane, Booktalks Quick and Simple

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” 

So begins the story of Nobody Owens, known as Bod.  On the night his parents are brutally murdered, 2-year-old Bod calmly climbs out of his crib and toddles out of the house and into a nearby cemetery.  There he is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Owens (childless and dead for 250 years!)  who gladly care for the child and protect him from harm.

With loving ghostly parents, teachers, friends, and protectors, Bod grows from age two to fifteen in the graveyard.  He learns to read and do numbers, and he also learns some ghostly skills.  But not all the residents of the graveyard are friendly.  There are witches, ghouls and creatures and let’s not forget Jack – the fiend who is out to finish the job he started.

Filled with great illustrations, this is a funny, exciting and suspenseful story.  How will Bod survive?  Or will he?  Can his loving family and friends really protect him from the evil Jack?  Read the Newbery Award winning book, The Graveyard Book and find out!

Booktalk by Diane Ferbrache, Teacher-Librarian
Hazen High School Librarian

Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

Ben Campbell is angry and wants everyone to know it. Three years ago his life changed dramatically when his dad came out of the closet, his mom split, and Edward (his momdad) moved in. Ben started skipping school, smoking pot and constantly getting into trouble. Now to straighten him out, his dads have moved them from Spokane to a small town in rural Montana to live with Edward’s mother. Spiky haired Ben doesn’t fit in with the cowboys in Rough Butte. Miss Mae, Edward’s mother, seems to be working him endlessly. Ben is sure the neighbor is abusing his son. Oh yeah, there is a beautiful girl he would like to date.

Will Ben get over his anger at his dad; can he help the boy next door; will he get the girl of his dreams? Read Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon to find out.

Booktalk by Mary Stolaas, Teacher-Librarian
District and Blue Heron Middle School

Booktalk #2

Life was going along just fine for Ben Campbell until he hit fourteen. That was the year his father announced that he was gay and his mother left. His dad’s boyfriend moved in, and Ben started counseling — and also misbehaving.

Now, after three years of run-ins with the law, Ben’s dad has decided the only way to save Ben is to leave Spokane. At age seventeen, city boy Ben finds himself living in Rough Butte, Montana. Edward, who Ben calls Momdad, has agreed to take them back to the hometown he left when he was Ben’s age. In Rough Butte, Ben is surrounded by homophobic cowboys, Edward’s acid-tongued mother, Miss Mae, and an abusive neighbor with a strange young son.

Used to doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, quickly ends for Ben as Miss Mae schools him in acceptable country behavior. She expects respect and hard work, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her wooden spoon as a weapon to encourage it. Ben reluctantly falls in line and even finds it rewarding at times. His father and Edward seem pleased for the most part, and his improved attitude and behavior are useful in his quest to attract the attention of the beautiful girl living just four doors down the street.

There are still frustrations for Ben. Completely forgiving his father for trashing his life back in Spokane is proving harder than he expected. Rough patches between father and son keep tensions high, and to complicate matters, Ben becomes convinced that the young neighbor boy is the victim of dangerous abuse. Ben’s efforts to seek justice for the boy create a whole new set of problems. 

Booktalk by Digital booktalk

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Her parents never talk with her about the accident. It happened when she was sixteen. Now she is seventeen. She slept for over a year and now is recuperating at a secluded cottage in California. Her mother pores over the details of her before-the-accident life. But nothing seems to click. It is clear her parents love her very much, that they would do anything for her. But she remembers nothing. She feels nothing. Who is Jenna Fox she asks herself? Who am I?

Then she has her first memory, a flash of falling off a pier and of being saved by my grandmother as a little girl. But strangely her grandmother now seems to dislike her. Why would she resent Jenna being alive? After being in a coma for over a year the girl desperately wants a real life with friends and a future. And the more she remembers the more questions she has. Why can she remember so few personal details about her past live? Why did they move to California when her doctors are in Boston? Why is she forbidden to travel and return to school?

In a world changed, not always for the better, by the advance of biotechnology, maybe it is better not to ask too many questions. Because the answers might challenge your idea of what it means to be human.

Her parents love Jenna Fox. They would do anything to keep her alive. But what are they hiding?  

Booktalk by Tom Reynolds, Librarian and Author


Booktalk #2

You wake up in the morning and brush your teeth; when you see your face in the mirror shouldn't it look familiar?

You have loving parents, who can't seem to do enough for you; shouldn't you feel something for them?

Don't grandmothers usually love their grandchildren? Why would yours seem to hate you?

Isn't it supposed to be easier to remember your best friends, and what you did together, than to remember your first birthday--perfectly--or to recite an entire book by Thoreau?

And even if you have just recovered from an accident, and being in a coma, after three or for weeks shouldn't you be allowed to eat real food, not just some kind of weird liquid medical muck?

Jenna Fox was in a terrible car accident. She nearly died. She was in a coma for months. The reconstructive surgery required would have been impossible for anyone but the daughter of the scientist who runs the world's top medical research company. What it took to save Jenna was the latest in cutting edge bio-technology. But as Jenna Fox begins to recover in a strange house across the country from where she used to live, she begins to wonder just what secrets her family is hiding from her. She begins to wonder who--and what--she really is. And if, perhaps, it might not have been better if her father had let her die.

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

You remember Jon Scieszka right? From when you were a rug-rat? The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs; The Stinky Cheese Man? That Scieszka.  

If you ever wondered what kind of crazy, twisted brain could create these stories, wonder no more: The true (okay, mostly true) story of Jon Scieszka's childhood is here.

Back when you were a yard ape, did you ever

Have your brother try to sell you your own shirt?

Tied your little brother to his bed with your dad’s ties?

Made a list of all the bad words you know. For your teacher. Who is a NUN?

Know what the rectum joke is?

Jon Scieszka does and has, which is no doubt why his dad called him a knucklehead. Because you know, he and his five brothers? Kind of are. 

Knucklehead is Jon’s side of the story. 

So, do you want to hear the rectum joke? Jon’s mom told it to her sons at the dinner table one night:

“Little Jonny stood up in class on one day to read his report: ‘I saw two dogs running. One ran right into the other one’s butt and knocked him off a cliff.’ ‘Oh, Johnny, said the teacher, “ we don’t say butt. We say rectum’ “Rectum?” said Johnny. It darn near killed ‘em!"

Need a good belly laugh? Check out Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead.

Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr

What is your earliest memory?  Do you remember being 3?  Jennifer does. 

What is your strongest memory? For Jennifer it was 5th grade.  

That was when everyone at school called her “Jennifer Fattifer, and her only friend was Cameron.  The strong memory involved bits of flashbacks that she has throughout the book.  Including some parts of that memory that she can’t face yet.  Including some parts that she has never shared with anyone but Cameron.  Then things change dramatically - Cameron disappears. Everyone says he was killed. Now flash forward to when Jennifer is 17.  Jennifer’s mother is remarried and they move- and Jennifer remakes herself into the thin, fun Jenna. But you know that strong memory? It keeps coming back in bits and snatches.  Then Cameron reappears, and he says they must face that memory together.  

Booktalk by Mary Jo Heller, Teacher-Librarian
Einstein Middle School