Sunday, March 17, 2013

Program + review: beTWEEN the lines

Our February meeting brought our biggest attendance yet. I still wonder what leads to the fluctuations in attendance - is it just that some are busy those particular days? Or is it that some titles hold greater appeal than others? In any case, we had good numbers for our February meeting and a great discussion - I think we actually stayed mainly on topic this time! I served cupcakes as a snack, since our meeting was right before one of our attender's birthdays (which she mentioned at the January meeting). They devoured them - these kids are serious eating machines. Let me get onto the review and try to mention some things we discussed in particular.

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, book one)
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published 1998 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Luke understands why he has to live a hidden life - he's not supposed to exist. His parents disobeyed the government's Population Police and had him - a third child. So, he knows that no one outside his family can ever see him. That doesn't mean he's happy about it, though. So, when one day, Luke spies a face in a house he knows already has two children, he begins to wonder - are there more kids like him out there? And how can he meet them?

I've been meaning to read this book since basically forever, and I love that the kids chose it for our book club (since it's actually older than they are!). I'm glad I finally got the chance to read it, having started Haddix's newest series last year. This is a short book, but it raises a lot of interesting questions. The kids and I talked about whether the government in this book has anything in common with our government, and I introduced China's one-child policy to them. We talked about how we would feel if we weren't allowed outside or if the government forced us all to be vegetarians. We talked about whether Jen was brave or stupid and whether her stepfather was a hero or a villain. We discussed what choices we would have made if we were in Luke's position. One of the things I found most interesting was that the kids thought the story took place in the past - Haddix never defines a setting. When I suggested that maybe it took place in the future, they thought that was unlikely. Just a very interesting observation that I hadn't expected. All the kids were eager to continue reading the series - in fact, one had already finished the second book as well.

We finished up book club by voting on April's title and then we had a bit of a snafu. Our copies of the March title didn't get ordered in time to be there for book club. This means I didn't have copies to hand out. Thankfully, the library owned two copies that were available, so I pulled those to give out to a couple of the kids. They all clamored to be the one to take home a copy that day, so I drew names from a hat. Then I had the other kids write down their parent's email addresses so I could let them know when the copies I ordered arrived (which they did just a few days later). It will be interesting to see if this effects how many kids show up in March - I hope not, because we've got a great book to discuss!

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