Posts Tagged ‘the unwanteds’

Rowling, J.K.  (1998).  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  New York, NY: Scholastic.ALA Notable Children’s BookInterest Level: 5-8Reading Level: 5.3Genre: FantasySubjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, MagicHarry Potter:1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone2 – The Chamber of Secrets3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban4 – The Goblet of Fire5 – The Order of the Phoenix6 – The Half-Blood Prince7 – The Deathly Hallows

Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, NY: Scholastic.
ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 5.3
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, Magic
Harry Potter:
1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone
2 – The Chamber of Secrets
3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban
4 – The Goblet of Fire
5 – The Order of the Phoenix
6 – The Half-Blood Prince
7 – The Deathly Hallows

“Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.” – Ron

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in a series about an 11-year-old boy wizard named Harry Potter. His world contains people unaware about magic called Muggles and a hidden society of magic. As an infant, Harry was left with his mother’s sister and her family, Harry grows up not knowing about magic, the world of his parents, and is treated horribly by his relatives. He is teased by his cousin Dudley, called names by his Aunt Petunia, and is forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs by his Uncle Vernon. Yet, all is about to change as Harry receives an invitation on his eleventh birthday to attend Hogwarts, a famous school of magic, and the remainder of the book covers the attendance of his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

From the start of his journey, Harry is continually amazed by the new and unusual things he sees and learns, particularly the fact that he is a natural flying on a broom. Even more, as he continues to meet these magical people, he discovers new friends and family he never had. As part of his new world, Harry has to deal with its evil elements. There are those who hate the non-magical Muggles. One of the most notorious and recent was Lord Voldemort, the wizard who murdered Harry’s parents and tried to kill Harry as an infant. In fact, this led to Harry being famous in the magical world, where he is known as “The Boy who Lived”, and, Lord Voldemort has not been heard of since the murder of Harry’s parents.

During the first school year, Harry Potter is curious about an item being hidden at Hogwarts, the Sorcerer’s Stone. Along with his new best friends, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, they discover the location of the Sorcerer’s Stone with additional hints slipped by the school’s keeper of grounds, Hagrid. It is here that Harry battles an ally of Lord Voldemort, Professor Quirrell and even has a confrontation with the evil wizard himself. Lord Voldemort as everyone anticipated was dead has actually living off of the essence of unicorn blood. And as the first book (first year of school at Hogwarts) concludes, Harry has cemented wonderful relationships with friends and mentors (the headmaster Professor Dumbledore and the head of the Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall), and is already excited for his second term (book two: The Chamber of Secrets).

The Harry Potter series, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone contains as much magic capturing the interest of the readers as magic within Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling has created a set of characters that you want to follow on their journey, as you cheer for them, laugh along with them, share in their wonder and magical lessons, and even experience their fright. J.K Rowling created characters in which readers of any age will easily be able to identify with whether they are Muggles or magical folk, and the settings are described in fluid detail that imagining such places comes with ease. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also created into a film that helped popularize the series even further. Most fans of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone most likely will/have enjoyed reading Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, the newer series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo, and Books of Beginning by John Stephens.

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Collins, S.  (2008).  The hunger games.  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book Interest Level: YAThe Hunger Games Trilogy:1 - The Hunger Games2 - Catching Fire3 - Mockingjay

Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: YA
The Hunger Games Trilogy:
1 – The Hunger Games
2 – Catching Fire
3 – Mockingjay

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Suzanne Collins begins The Hunger Games by introducing the reader to Panem, a dystopian society divided into 12 districts in the ruins of what was once North America. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl, will learn that her actions alone can ignite change for a better future. She is from District 12, one of the poorer districts where food is scarce.  We learn that Katniss has had a hard life after her father died when she was 11-years-old in a mining accident and her mother was unable to cope leaving Katniss to fend for the family.  She taught herself to hunt illegally outside of the limits of District 12, how to barter her catch for food and goods with other traders at the Hob, and to inevitably keep her and her sister alive.

Each year, Panem has an event called “The Reaping” in every District. The Reaping is for The Hunger Games. Every district picks two tributes, a boy and a girl by lottery that will literally fight for their lives.  For the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss steps up and volunteers after her sister, Primrose’s name is drawn.  Peeta Mallark is also chosen, the boy that once gave her bread for her family when they were starving. The two tributes of District 12 are sent to the capital of Panem, a plush luxurious place with as much food as one could eat. There they train for the upcoming games in which they learn to hone the skills they were born with.  For Katniss it’s hunting with a crossbow in which her skill and accuracy are unmatched.  For Peeta it’s his strength and ability to camouflage himself.

Katniss’ partnership during the games with fellow tribute Rue reminds Katniss of Primrose and fuels a desire to protect her.  When Rue dies it breaks Katniss heart and Katniss tries her best to honor Rue.  That honoring of District 11’s tribute sparked anger and discontent over the games.  The connection between Katniss and Rue may have helped start the rebellion that begins later in The Hunger Games Trilogy. The star-crossed lover story was cooked up by Haymitch, but to Katniss’ surprise she finds that Peeta’s feelings are true but not mutual. And, at the end of the games, rather than killing one another, Katniss and Peeta choose to consume poisonous berries so that the Game Makers will fail, resulting in the 74th Hunger Games without a victor.  Because there must always be a victor, the two are allowed to live. Many believed their actions as an act of defiance, particularly President Snow who could foreshadow an upcoming rebellion as a result.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy is immensely likeable. They were hard to read at times due to the violence but the story offers highly likeable characters in which readers will find themselves able to relate to one or more characters keeping them feverishly reading the series.  Suzanne Collins successfully conveys Katniss’ sadness over her losses and her inherent strength to climb back out of her pain to cope with the next bad thing.  Katniss does not live a life of illusion. She recognizes the ugliness in her world, her desire for change, but also her acceptance that this may be all she ever knows. Readers will learn a lesson that’s not metaphorical, or even the most inspirational, but what a reader may take from The Hunger Games is that making the best of a bad situation and finding a way to cope may be life’s only choice at times. And, even if the characters lack hope, the story is so compelling that the desire for success of these characters will have most readers believing they somehow can offer their strength and courage to aid Katniss and Peeta. The Hunger Games, and the entire trilogy offers a highly suspenseful and philosophical action-adventure with elements of romance in these YA novels that tweens will be eager to read. Other books that tweens may also enjoy that are set in dystopian futures and are specified as tween literature include, Among the Betrayed (Shadow Children #3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1) by Jeanne DuPrau, and The Unwanteds (The Unwanteds #1) by Lisa McMann.

unwanteds

McMann, L. (2011). The Unwanteds. New York, NY: Alladin.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 5.4
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
Subjects: Creative ability, Magic, Brothers, Twins, Fantasy, Social problems, Self-confidence
The Unwanteds:
1 – The Unwanteds
2 – Island of Silene
3 – ?

“The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.” – Kirkus Reviews

Identical twins Alex and Aaron, on their 13th birthday, like all citizens in Quill are sorted into their classes at the annual “purge” as either a Unwanted, Wanted, or Necessary. The Wanteds become politicians who are given an education, the Necessaries live in poverty and are uneducated, and the Unwanteds are artistic individuals like Alex Stowe who was caught drawing in the dirt with a stick. It’s uncommon for twins to be sorted as opposites, but in the case of these two, Alex, an artistic type is deemed an Unwanted, and his brother Aaron, politically focused is a Wanted. Alex, like all the Unwanteds is sent to the “great lake of boiling oil” to meet his death, or so that’s the fate of all the Unwanteds as the citizens of Quill believe it to be. But, rather, the Unwanteds are transported to Artime’, a world created by Mr. Today, a safe haven in which they can nurture their artistic gifts and become magical warriors at a school filled with odd and quirky teachers and strange creatures. Artime’s existence is threatened due the bond Alex has for his brother Aaron, though not mutual, and as war unfolds the battle lines are drawn between creativity and that of strength and intelligence, Quill and Artime’, and brother against brother.

Who would not be excited thinking of a dystopian adventure fantasy in which a society is divided and the worlds in many ways mirror two highly popular books series? Quill the equivalent of Panem in The Hunger Games, and Artime the equivalent of Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Paint brushes used in place of wands and death at a young age not due to killing games set up like a reality TV show but rather sentenced to the Death Farm. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann presents a highly descriptive and imaginative new series that fans of Harry Potter and The Hungers Games will be eager to read. This is a story about acceptance, a lesson worthy of being told for readers of any age. The second book, Island of Silence is as exciting and quickly paced as the first in the series. Other novels that may be similarly enjoyed include Children of the Red King (aka Charlie Bone) series by Jenny Nimmo, Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, Books of Beginning by John Stephens, and The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.