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It’s never fun to listen to someone talk about all of the ways in which a movie was not like the book. And I’m not going to do that here because that is not the point. Am I sad that the personalities and import of secondary characters were lost between Mockingjay the book and Mockingjay the movies? Yes. Do I wish Prim’s final scene could have been more impactful? I do. Would it have been better to more strongly allude to Gale’s part in the bombing? Possibly.
But, surprisingly, what has most saddened me about Mockingjay, Part 2 is what was kept between book and movie: the epilogue.
People have talked and talked and talked about The Hunger Games as a feminist franchise — here we have a somewhat oblivious but totally badass heroine who sometimes responds in stereotypically feminine ways but, more often than not, breaks convention. She’s a breadwinner and protector, quick to anger, emotionally damaged, confused, and heroic. Katniss is brave and strong, skilled and smart, and, always, distinctly a teenage girl.
The feminism doesn’t stop with Katniss. Women are real people in this franchise: Effie rocks out her style no matter the situation, because it makes her feel good; Coin is ruthless and ready for power; Prim is focused on bettering herself and the world around her; Annie — as difficult as it may be — survives, thrives, and raises a child without her male partner; Cressida escapes the Capitol and becomes a leader in the rebellion; Johanna endures terrible punishment but maintains her steel and intelligence. Women, like their male counterparts (also real people who break with gender norms: Peeta as partner, Finnick’s imprisonment in the sex trade, Beetee as a maternal figure to Wiress), are agents of change. It is a beautiful thing to see this work gain such a massive following and dominate the box office.
But that last scene…
Mockingjay the book ends the same way as Mockingjay, Part 2: we flash-forward to Katniss and Peeta as the parents of two young children. Katniss lets us know that one day, when it’s time, she’ll explain to her children why the world is the way it is and her role in making it that way. She will tell her children why she has nightmares, how she survived, how she continues to survive. It is clear that she is happy, if scarred. It is clear that there is a “happy ending.” And it is clear that life goes on.
It could have been clearer in the movie that Peeta and Katniss are still broken in some ways, that the pain never really goes away, that things aren’t all meadows and chubby babies. But if you know what to look/listen for, those ideas can be found in the dialogue.
But the book makes one additional, very important thing clear: it took many, many years (“five, ten, fifteen years”) before Katniss felt safe and comfortable with the idea of motherhood. Peeta is the partner who desperately wants a family — Katniss does not acquiesce until her early 30s. She loves her children, yes, and is very happy with her life and the added role of mother, but at no point was it necessary for her to have children to be happy.
In the movie, however, we cut to a seated, loose-haired Katniss, babe in arms. She wears a pastel, floral print dress and is bathed in golden light. Gone is her signature braid, gone are her Earth-tone colors and leather vests, gone is her restless motion and active-even-at-rest stance. Gone is Katniss the Hero. All of the pain, the work, the fear, the struggle in the name of the female protagonist with agency; all of Katniss is wiped clean in this image. Here, she sits inactive, wearing clothing we have only ever associated with her mother (whose complete lack of agency is integral to the story), with husband and children as her sole focus.
This ending shows the viewer that the only way a woman can be truly happy is through motherhood — the only measure of a woman’s success is through her ability to be a mommy. It doesn’t matter that Katniss has taken down the Capitol. It doesn’t matter that she deposed what would be a new dictator. It doesn’t matter that she has finally discovered and understood herself and her loss. It doesn’t matter that she has mended relationships. It doesn’t matter that she has opened herself up to love. It doesn’t matter that it took fifteen years of relationship building and emotional mending to bring Katniss to a place where she would accept being a parent. None of this matters because the only way to give a woman a happy ending is to make her a mommy.
Four movies. Four. Of strength and wit and sacrifice and crushing defeats and women enacting world-changing events. All to bring us to one final scene: Katniss the Mother.
It devastates me that this ending was so misrepresented. Because the beauty of the book’s epilogue lies in how Katniss and Peeta keep themselves whole, how they build a life together, how they are individuals with pasts that matter, how they cannot be pigeon-holed into specific gender or relationship roles. It adds to the feminist nature of the work and continues Collins’s methodical destruction of gender stereotypes. It is hopeful and realistic and it made me cry for days.
The movie ending, though, works only to undermine all of the important work Collins’s series has done. Because, at the end of the day, who cares if you’re the Girl on Fire? You only matter if you have a girl of your own.
Don’t miss our reviews of Mockingjay, Parts 1and2. This post is part of our Hunger Games Week. Click on the tags Hunger Games Week and Hunger Games to see all posts.
The Hunger Games [Hunger Games]
by Suzanne Collins
Middle School, High School Scholastic 374 pp.
10/08 978-0-439-02348-1 $17.99
Survivor meets “The Lottery” as the author of the popular Underland Chronicles returns with what promises to be an even better series. The United States is no more, and the new Capitol, high in the Rocky Mountains, requires each district to send two teenagers, a boy and a girl, to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a reality show from which only one of the twenty-four participants will emerge victorious — and alive. When her younger sister is chosen by lottery to represent their district, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead, while Peeta, who secretly harbors a crush on Katniss, is the boy selected to join her. A fierce, resourceful competitor who wins the respect of the other participants and the viewing public, Katniss also displays great compassion and vulnerability through her first-person narration. The plot is front and center here — the twists and turns are addictive, particularly when the romantic subplot ups the ante — yet the Capitol’s oppression and exploitation of the districts always simmers just below the surface, waiting to be more fully explored in future volumes. Collins has written a compulsively readable blend of science fiction, survival story, unlikely romance, and social commentary. JONATHAN HUNT
Catching Fire[Hunger Games]
by Suzanne Collins
Middle School, High School 391 pp. Scholastic
9/09 978-0-439-02349-8 $17.99 g
Six months have passed since Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games, and now they are ready to embark on their Victory Tour of the districts, but they do so under an ominous threat to the safety of their family and friends, a threat delivered in person by President Snow himself. It turns out that Katniss’s Games-ending stunt with the berries has been read not only as an expression of her devotion to Peeta but also as an act of defiance of the Capitol — and because most of the districts fester with unrest, the Capitol is pressuring her to reinforce the first interpretation. The Victory Tour and its aftermath give her time to work through her ambivalence toward the rebellion (Does her celebrity obligate her to participate in the uprising?) and romance (How does she really feel about Gale? about Peeta?), but the Hunger Games are fast approaching, and since this is the seventy-fifth anniversary, these Games will be a Quarter Quell, an opportunity for the Capitol to add a cruel twist. This year’s twist seems particularly so, but Katniss and company are equal to it. The plot kicks into another gear as the fascinating horrors of the Hunger Games are re-enacted with their usual violence and suspense. Many of the supporting characters — each personality distinct — offer their own surprises. The stunning resolution reveals the depth of the rebellion, while one last cliffhanger sets the stage for a grand finale. Collins has once again delivered a page-turning blend of plot and character with an inventive setting and provocative themes. JONATHAN HUNT
Mockingjay [Hunger Games]
by Suzanne Collins
Middle School, High School Scholastic 392 pp.
8/10 978-0-439-02351-1 $17.99
Katniss has been spirited away from the carnage of the recent Quarter Quell (Catching Fire) to District 13, thought to have been destroyed years ago, but very much alive and kicking. As all of the districts move into open rebellion against the Capitol, Katniss reluctantly but resolutely accepts her role as the figurehead of the movement. As she heals, both physically and emotionally, from her previous ordeal, she works through not only the ethical minefield of warfare but also her complicated relationships with Peeta and Gale. One last desperate mission takes Katniss and company to the Capitol, where she hopes to deal a mortal blow to President Snow and his oppressive regime. Collins has always been able to generate an extraordinary amount of suspense and surprise from a single narrative arc, and that’s certainly true once again. But the events of this story play out on a much more epic scale (rapid changes in time and place and a larger cast of characters), almost demanding more than the single point of view (Katniss’s) Collins employs. Some may be disappointed that this concluding volume features less action and more introspection than the earlier books; others may wish for a different resolution, particularly where romance is concerned. All things considered, however, Collins has brought the most compelling science-fiction saga of the past several years to a satisfying and provocative conclusion. JONATHAN HUNT
When my picturebook, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman was first published, I lied to my mother-in-law. When she saw this image of Tameka writing a letter to her Uncle Ray, my MIL noticed that Tameka was left-handed. I told her that I asked the illustrator, Joe Cepeda especially to make her left handed like my MIL.
Fast forward to the second book featuring Tameka in search of a wooden woman. Again, Tameka writes a letter, but this time, Cepeda drew her right handed. Because of my lie, I realized immediately that we had a continuity error, and Joe redrew a small portion of the image to make her left-handed again.
When Katniss is turning around to show her fire dress, you can see her hair (bun) comes apart. But in the next scene her hair is nicely tucked in.
When Peeta throws the metal ball at the spears, the career tributes (Cato, Marvel and Clove) are laughing at Peeta before he throws the ball. After Peeta has thrown it, Clove has gone and Glimmer is in her place.
When the 12 chariots are parading to the final stopping spot, the fans are throwing flowers and all kinds of things on the road that they ride in on. When they show the overhead view and the last chariots pull up there is not one item on the roadway.
None of those is earth-shattering; none of those changes the plot; and most wouldn’t be caught by a casual movie-goer. Obsessive people find these things.
Tony’s watch said that it was 12.10 when he axed the logs outside. Then the watch changes into 11.20 when he talked with Fury inside the barn.
After all the Avengers have tried to lift Thor’s hammer, Thor picks it up up with a drink in his hand. In the next shot the drink is on the table.
You would think that after all the efforts from hundreds of people, that a movie would be a bit of perfection. How can these errors slip in? It’s the complexity, I think. When there are so many moving parts, it’s difficult to make sure that everything is in sync with every other part.
Prevent Continuity Errors in Your Novel
One revision I’m doing right now in my novel is for continuity.
Read Your Whole Novel in a Short Amount of Time. Writing a whole novel can take a long period of time, and in that extended time period, you may forget a detail here or there. Were Alice’s eyes blue or green? Is her middle name Elle or Ellen? Reading rapidly for continuity can help refresh your memory.
Create a Character Bible, a Plot Bible, and Story Bible. Some writers like to create a “bible” of sorts. To do this, take a page (or a file, or a Scrivener document) and write the character’s name at the top of the page. Under it, write down the details about that character. Name, age, description, background details, etc. Any time you start to write about the character (or when you go back to check continuity) refer to that page/file. If you write it down, it acts as the “word of God” about the character.
Repeat, as you like for the plot or other story aspects.
Beta Readers Finally, you can find beta readers or critique partners who are sticklers for details like this. Turn them loose and let them go to town.
Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to do a last read-through for continuity before you send it out to editors. But if you DO miss some small items, you’re in good company with Hunger Games and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Lionsgate has unveiled the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. The video embedded above features scenes with a fierce Katniss Everdeen leading a rebellion against the evil President Snow—what do you think?
This film, the final installment of the Hunger Games franchise, will hit theaters on November 20th. Last year, the movie studio created several promotional videos for Part 1 including two \"Panem Addresses,\" a clip, and a fewtrailers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.”
And welcome to the last Hunger Games movie. In the first trailer for the series finale, Mockingjay Part Two reveals itself to be noticeably more bombastic than the film that preceded it. The conflict finally moves out of the secret District 13 and into The Capital, which I’ve always found to be the most intriguing part of the dystopian society created by author Suzanne Collins. The absurd aesthetic of the Capital, which mixes Baroque and Victorian fashion, forms a distinct visual counterpoint to the plain earth tones of the clothes worn by the outer districts. We get our first good look at Capital architecture in this trailer, and interestingly it not only draws from Beaux-Arts, but the aesthetic of industrial factories.
Anyone else wish we could get a spin-off based around culture in the Capital?
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two comes out on November 20th.
Other artists being featured include The Chemical Brothers, Grace Jones, and more. Follow this link to listen to the first single. Click here to watch the new TV spot video, entitled “CHOICE,” for Mockingjay Part 1. (via Entertainment Weekly)
Lionsgate has unveiled the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One. The video embedded above features a “burning” message from rebel Katniss Everdeen to the villainous President Snow—what do you think?
Studio C has created a trio of Hunger Games-themed parody songs in anticipation of the release of Mockingjay Part 1. The sketch comedy group also shot a music video for each song and posted them on the BYUtv YouTube channel.
Lionsgate will partner with two companies, Imagine Nation (based in Holland) and Triangular Entertainment, to create a stage show based on Suzanne Collins’ hit book, The Hunger Games.
Broadway veteran Robin de Levita, co-founder of Imagine Nation, will serve as a producer for this project. According to the press release, this production will open in Summer 2016.
It will play in a brand new purpose-built theater located next to Wembley Stadium in London. No announcement has been made as to whether or not the show will be brought to New York City. (via E! Online)
Here’s more from the press release: “#MyHungerGames aims to put action to those words. The Harry Potter Alliance is calling on the public to join the real-life District 13 — to hack the Hunger Games narratives, and to open up the pervasive personal narratives of the daily realities of income inequality in much the same way that the great #YesAllWomen did with the daily realities of misogyny.”
The group recently re-launched the “Odds in Our Favor” campaign. The organizers behind this social justice venture has been speaking out against the low wages that Walmart and McDonald’s pays its employees. Those who wish to join in on this venture are encouraged to share photos of themselves making this hand gesture.
Here’s more from the press release: “On Friday, supporters shared imagesoftheirsupport on social media by using the #MyHungerGames hashtag and Walmart workers, along with union leaders (like American Federation of Teachers president and Our Walmart ally, Randi Weingarten), used the three finger salute at protests across the country. One group of protesters rewrote a protest song from Mockingjay Part One and sang it at the protest in Long Beach, CA. The actions were in partnership with the Our Walmart campaign, which seeks to raise wages. Supporters also shared a document with Walmart management outlining their objections to ‘Walmart’s Hunger Games’ policies.”
In the previous installment of this series, I noted that I was looking forward to watching some more grown-up fare at the movie theater. Eight months later, I seem to have failed spectacularly at that task. There are a whole bunch of movies for adults, like Boyhood and Whiplash, that I meant to see and never got around to, and here I am again reporting on the more shlocky end of the scale. So
Protesters who oppose the recent military coup in Thailand have adopted the three-finger salute that originated from The Hunger Games.
Time reports that "scores of those proffering the salute during weekend street protests have been dragged off by troops, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Suzanne Collins novels and movie franchise, which depict a dystopian future society ruled by the totalitarian Panem regime."
According to Wired, many of those who support this cause have posted photos of themselves performing the salute on social media platforms. Below, we've embedded a tweet of one protester thanking the series for its inspiration. What do you think?
So far, the video has drawn more than 480,000 views on YouTube. The third installment of The Hunger Games film franchise will be released on November 21, 2014. Fans can visitTheHungerGamesExclusive.com for photos, posters, and script excerpts. What do you think?
Lionsgate has unleashed a “Panem Address” video called “Unity” to promote the Mockingjay Part 1 movie. So far, the video has drawn more than 6,000 “likes” on Facebook.
Continuing where the previously released “Together As One” video left off, the video embedded above stars President Snow with victors Peeta Mellark and Johanna Mason standing beside him. It also features glimpses of rebel Beetee Latier who hacks into the program.
Lionsgate has unleashed a teaser for Mockingjay Part 1. The video embedded above offers glimpses of former head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, District 13 leader Alma Coin, and the reluctant rebel Katniss Everdeen.
Prior to the unveiling of this trailer, the movie studio released two “Panem Address” videos with victors Peeta Mallark and Johanna Masonstanding beside the evilPresident Snow. This film adaptation will hit theaters on November 21, 2014. (via Vanity Fair)
Lorde has been tasked with selecting the artists who will be featured on the album. The New Zealand pop singer will also record the first single.
Lorde had this statement in the press release: “The cast and story are an inspiration for all musicians participating and, as someone with cinematic leanings, being privy to a different creative process has been a unique experience. I think the soundtrack is definitely going to surprise people.”
I was on a recent business trip and wandered into the airport bookstore. Always dangerous. I can rarely keep my purchase contained to just one book, even when I'm traveling. This time I was able to squeeze out with one literary magazine, a terribly thick nonfiction book, and "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.
I picked up "The Giver" because it had the gold Newberry Medal Award sticker on its cover and a fascinating illustration of an old man (not to mention the bare tree limbs that also look like crackles of lightning that merge with the old man's scraggly beard). It wasn't until after I read the back cover that I noticed that next to these copies of the book was another grouping with the same title but a cover that had the two hot teens on it with the blurb "Now a major motion picture!"
Being the book snob that I am, I almost put it back. I just don't like jumping into a book because it is already popular or because a movie is coming out. In fact, it almost ruins it for me. I like to find a book and love it all on its own long before someone tries to ruin it by making a movie of it (which I will inevitably get super excited to see, then afterward complain about all the details the screen version got wrong). And I never, if at all possible, buy a copy of a book that touts "now a major motion picture."
"The Giver" was a fairly thin novel, so when I settled into my flight I pulled it out first. What piqued my interest the most was that I knew absolutely nothing about it other than what the lovely jacket with the old man on it had hinted. I love going into books like that, don't you? When there are no expectations, no preconceived ideas, no pre-knowledge of plot lines.
As I got into it I saw that it was another dystopian YA book, but it was well done. Interesting. Held my attention. But the focus was a bit narrow and it ended somewhat abruptly and left me a little unfulfilled. I couldn't help but compare it to "Matched," "Hunger Games," and "Divergence." It had the same feel, but not quite the complexity of the others.
On the other hand, it felt ... clean. Clean like contemporary furniture or modern architecture. The plot line was direct, not overly embellished, and structurally sound, with a beauty coming from the complexity of its spare but perfect balance.
"The Giver" felt like the grandmother, the genesis, of all the others. The forbearer.
When I got home I did some research on Lois Lowry and I found that she is indeed considered the godmother of this type of book. I also found out that she wrote three subsequent novels of a similar vein with different characters, and then a fourth that wove all of their stories together. But the most interesting point was that she wrote these four books not as a preconceived series, but as what I can only describe as sister-books, related but individual, between many other novels and publications over some 20 years.
This may all be old news to many of you, but it was a delicious revelation to me.
I'm glad I found "The Giver," in spite of the fact that I must give credit to the movie for bringing even this Newberry Award edition to my attention. Because without the film, the book wouldn't have been in the airport for me to find.
I'm eager now to pick up "The Giver"'s mates and, I must admit, I'm curious about the movie.
But I'll be sure to read all the books before seeing the film, so that I have plenty to complain about at dinner afterward.
Have you been moved by "The Giver"? Eager for or dreading the movie adaptation?
When I was starting out as a writer as a student and concentrating on comics I had a mental crisis that I wasn't going to make enough of a difference to the world just by writing comics.
But then I had a dream (while camping in the Bois de Boulogne, on the outskirts of Paris) which was very explicit. It said that if one person has their life changed as a result of something I write, then it would have been worthwhile.
Fine. So, eventually, I ended up working for Marvel comics, etc.
Then I started writing YA dystopias.
And I thought that by writing dystopias I was getting people to question the way the world was going and perhaps work for a better world. After all that's how it worked in my case. (I have parallel careers as an environmentalist and a writer.)
Then dystopias became two-a-penny.
And it turns out I was wrong. Firstly there's this article which has just appeared in the Guardian Online, which appears to suggest that modern dystopic YA novel such as the Hunger Games do nothing of the sort. This, despite the obvious satirical intention was partly a critique of mass entertainment.
I don't particularly agree with this critique, which also says that this book and Divergent are right wing attacks on more egalitarian types of government. I think it's more than a little paranoid. I think it's more likely that readers only end up being sucked into the consumer market, instead of questioning it.
But here's something even more damning to the notion that by getting kids to read dystopic fiction we're helping to create a better world.
In between looking for great graphic novels, he asked fans of dystopias what they thought the future will be like. He said: "My reasoning is this: These people are young, smart, and curious about technology and future worlds. They must have some good ideas."
But no. Marshall writes:
Brian Ferrara is selling nine-hundred-dollar replica weapons from science fiction video games. “I’m not a doomsday prophecy kind of guy, but I am a realist,” he says. So, being realistic, he doesn’t see a bright future, but he is very vague about the details. Maybe, he speculates, we will be immobilized, strapped to a chair with a feeding tube.
One couple are more politically alert, having spent time with the Occupy movement. They anticipate some kind of corporate dystopia, But, they say, there are other issues too. Overbreeding. The constant battle over fertility rights. “Yes,” says the woman, warming to the theme. “Politicians! Get out of my uterus! Leave my lady parts alone!” In her onepiece latex Catwoman outfit, she looks reasonably safe for the moment.
And climate change? In over twenty interviews, not one person mentions climate change until I prompt them to do so. Then they have lots of views. No one doubts that it is happening or is going to be a disaster. “It will escalate into catastrophe.” “If we can’t cope with that, we’ll all die like the dinosaurs.” But asked to identify when these impacts might hit, they reckon it’s still a long way off. “Maybe my great-grandchildren will have to deal with it,” Catwoman says.
It doesn't really prompt them to do anything about it. Except buy more comics.
So, I conclude, dystopias have become just another commodity, dealing out escapism. Which is a bit depressing, given that my next novel, Stormteller, out next month, is a dystopia/fantasy about climate change.
Lionsgate has unleashed the official trailer for Mockingjay part one. The video embedded above offers glimpses of soldier Gale Hawthorne, former Hunger Games victor Peeta Mellark, and the reluctant rebel Katniss Everdeen.
Dystopias are trending in contemporary popular culture. Novels and movies abound that deal with fictional societies within which humans, individually and collectively, have to cope with repressive, technologically powerful states that do not usually care for the well-being or safety of their citizens, but instead focus on their control and extortion. The latest resounding dystopian success is The Hunger Games—a box-office hit located in a nation known as Panem, which consists of 12 poor districts, starved for resources, under the absolute control of a wealthy centre called the Capitol. In the story, competitive struggle is carried to its brutal extreme, as poor young adults in a reality TV show must fight to death in an outdoor arena controlled by an authoritarian Gamemaker, until only one individual remains. The poverty and starvation, combined with terror, create an atmosphere of fear and helplessness that pre-empts any resistance based on hope for a better world.
We fear that part of the popularity of this science fiction action-drama, in Europe at least, lies in the fact that it has a real-life analogue: the Spectacle—in Debord’s (1967) meaning of the term—of the current ‘competitiveness game’ in which the Eurozone economies are fighting for their survival. Its Gamemaker is the European Central Bank (ECB), which—completely stuck to Berlin’s hard line that fiscal profligacy in combination with rigid, over-regulated labour markets has created a deep crisis of labour cost competitiveness—has been keeping the pressure on Eurozone countries so as to let them pay for their alleged fiscal sins. The ECB insists that there will be ‘no gain without pain’ and that the more one is prepared to suffer, the more one is expected to prosper later on.
The contestants in the game are the Eurozone members—each one trying to bootstrap its economy out of the throes of the most severe crisis in living memory. The audience judging each country’s performance is not made up of reality TV watchers but of financial (bond) markets and credit rating agencies, whose supposedly rational views can make or break any economy. The name of the game is boosting cost-competitiveness and exports—and its rules are carved into stone in March 2011 in a Euro Plus ‘Competitiveness Pact’ (Gros, 2011).
Raising competitiveness here means reducing costs, and more specifically cutting labour costs, which means lowering the wage share by means of reducing employment protection, lowering minimum wages, raising retirement ages, lowering pensions and, last but not least, cutting real wages. Economic inequality, poverty and social exclusion will all initially increase, but don’t worry: structural reforms hurt in the beginning, but their negative effects will be offset over time by changes in ‘confidence,’ boosting spending and exports. But it will not work, and the damage done by austerity and structural reforms is enormous; sadly, most of it was and is avoidable. The wrong policies follow from ‘design faults’ built into the Euro project right from the start—the creation of an ‘independent’ European Central Bank being the biggest ‘fault’, as it precluded the necessary co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy and disabled the central banking system from providing support to national governments (Arestis and Sawyer, 2011). But as Palma (2009) reminds us, it is wrong to think about these ‘faults’ as being caused by perpetual incompetence—the monetarist Euro project should instead be read as a purposeful ‘technology of power’ to transform capitalism into a rentiers’ paradise. This way, one can understand why policy makers persist in abandoning the unemployed.
Is Panem modeled after ruthless dictatorships of the past?
Is the harsh world of the Grimm's more than a reflection of the past?
Does children's literature, in books and movies, bring the past into the present?
Can childhood stories open the doors of the mind to the present -- and the future?
High Stakes of YA Dystopia.
In earlier eras, there were adult works of literature set in dystopian milieus... they includeThe Trial, Brave New World, Animal Farm, 1984, Childhood's End, The Quiet Ameriican, The Naked and the Dead, A Rumor of War, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Farenheit 451, All Quiet On the Western Front, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and many more.
To one degree or another, these books are classics. And like children's and young adult (YA) books of our current era, many were reinvented as theatre and movies.
Today, we seem to have a run of dystopian-centered books and films for young adults (YA). Many are in the form of a series and are followed by films -- also in series. The books, although some may be well written, do not pretend to be literature. Rather, the books, like the films, seem primarily designed to be popular and succeed in the marketplace.
Controversy has followed...most of the films are characterized by great violence; and they all seem to have teen age protagonists who are themselves commiting violence (usually for survival).
Crossover. I don't know if the term YA, and the definition (12-18 year olds) came from marketeers or librarians, or both. I do know that the lines have been blurred, with children and adults both crossing over into the realm of YA.
I doubt that there will be clear lines in the future. The finacial stakes are too high. YA books and movies are a multi -billion dollar business.
Personally, I don't care if adults read YA books. Hopefully, they do so with discernment.
I do care about the amount of over-the-top violence that children are subjected to in YA movies.
For any child, there is a huge difference in the impact found in the brief mention of Gretel pushing the murderous witch into the oven, when compared to the long, unrelenting, realistic, hardcore violence (supported by thunderous sound and music) of the Ring movies.
Hopefully, Alice In Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, Snow White, HisDark Materials, Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and other classics -- themselves often fraught with danger, fear, and violent events -- will continue as the main source for bringing the past -- or the future -- into Children's minds.
Dystopia and the Grimms
The world of the Grimm's fairy tales is filled with fearful events, dark forests, curses by evil witches, and cruelty -- dystopia, but always relieved by magic, marvels, courage, beauty and happy endings...
"The unsparing savegry of stories like the Robber Bridegroom is a sharp reminder that fairy tales belong to the childhood of culture as much as the culture of childhood...they capture anxieties and fantasies that have deep roots in childhood experience"- Maria Tatar,The Grimm Reader: Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm.
"It is worth noting that the lives of all people in the land of the Grimm's was in was in constant turmoil and change during the time that the Grimm's collected, wrote, and published their books." - Seth Lerer, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.
The illustration from The Robber Bridegroom is by John B. Gruelle
"'Well, dear little children. How in the world did you get here? Just come right in, and you can stay with me. You will come to no harm in my house.' She took them by the hand and led them into her house...The old woman had only pretended to be kind." - Hansel and Gretel meet the Wicked Witch
"For children in their most impressionable years, there is in fantasy, the highest of stimulating and educational powers." -Arthur Rackham
Kaitlin Jenkin's has two blogs, She Speaks Bark and Pet Parent.Kaitlin has a background of working in many dog related jobs, including foster care and 7 years as a shelter worker. She has two adopted dogs (seen on the left), Bear and Scooter. She recently wrote an excellent and informative review of C.A. Wulff and A.A. Weddle's book for dog owners, Finding Fido. Here are excerpts...
"The thought of Bear or Scooter going missing, or being stolen is one that I don’t let my mind entertain. To say I’d be devastated doesn’t even begin to cover it, and I know you all feel the same about your pets! Would you know what to do if your pet suddenly went missing? Where to begin? What to do first?
Finding Fido is essentially a Pet Parent’s guide to preventing the loss of a pet, as well as a guide on exactly what steps to take should that awful moment ever happen to you. Authors C.A Wulffand A.A.Weddle are the administrators of the Lost & Found Ohio Pets service and they collaborated on this helpful guide in order to address the sad reality of so many lost pets in America....
If our pets were to become lost, it would be absolutely devastating. We may not even be able to think logically in order to act effectively to work towards their return. That’s why this book is great- it’s literally a step by step guide to finding your lost pet. Full of resources for Pet Parents to utilize, and all at the turn of a page.
... I think that Finding Fido is a great read for all Pet Parents and pet lovers. If you’re a first time Pet Parent or a long time, seasoned Pet Parent, there are tips and tricks in here that will be helpful to you! Everyone should read the sections entitled ‘Before You Lose A Pet‘" ...
Adults Continue to Cross the Borders of Imagination Into Y.A.
As part of a post that I wrote in our September blog about the trend of adults reading Y.A. books, I quoted journalist (Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe) Ruth Graham'sarticle in Slate with this headline: "Read whatever you want. But you should be embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children."
Graham's article provoked substantial controversy including a very thoughtful rebuttal, in Hairpin, by journalist and author(Save The Date ) Jen Doll: The Trouble With Reader-Shaming: A Y.A.Book List Here are excerpts from Jen Doll's rebuttal:
"The great debate over whether grownups should read young adult literature—and further, what the nature of reading should be—has come up again, thanks to a piece in Slate telling adults they should feel ashamed about reading books for kids...
"What the piece itself rails against—that Y.A. offers pat, easy or at the very least "satisfying" solutions aimed at kids and doesn’t make adults think—could be said for the very type of internet writing it embodies. Here, precisely, is how you should feel, it says. Here are the answers, tied up in a bow: You be embarrassed for wasting your time reading Y.A., because Y.A. is not for adults, and you should be reading something appropriate to your age. It is easy and not challenging. You should not be "substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature." This is an argument that speaks from a place of truth and rightness, or at least, intends to; there is little room for nuance.
Yet, nuance persists. There are many, many factors that go into what makes something complex, great, or "appropriate to one's age," and most of all this depends on who is reading it—not based in age, because age categorizations do not always match prescribed reading levels; just ask any kid sneaking illicit tomes off her parents' bookshelf because all "her" books have already been devoured—but based in who that person is, what they want, and what they bring to the table..."
Update: Jen Dollis now writing a column of YA book reviews for the venerable New York Times: "Y.A. Crossover". The Times they are a changing. Congratulations, Jen Doll.
The Photo is of Ms Doll. The two books pictured are from Ms Doll's Y.A. Book List.
KidLitosphere is the best source that I have found for locating children's literature blogs. KidLitosphere has helped many readers find their way to these pages. Here is an excerpt form their home page..."Some of the best books being published today are children’s and young adult titles, well-written and engaging books that capture the imagination. Many of us can enjoy them as adults, but more importantly, can pass along our appreciation for books to the next generation by helping parents, teachers, librarians and others to find wonderful books, promote lifelong reading, and present literacy ideas."
Geno is retiring. An 8 year old German Shepherd, Geno is highly regarded by the Kane County Sheriff's Office for his loyalty, courage and intelligence. Here are excerpts from his bio as posted by the Sheriff's Office:
"Geno has served with the KCSO since 2009. Deputy Bill Gatske, Geno’s handler, has served with the KCSO for 15 years and Geno will continue to live with Gatske and his family in retirement. Over his career, Geno has... performed numerous dignitary and presidential protective sweeps and participated in sweeps before games at Soldier Field in Chicago along with conducting countless explosivedetection searches, suspect apprehensions and missing person searches. Geno may be most remembered, though, for his appearances with local area children where he taught the value of policing and reinforced the fact that law enforcement officers exists to serve their community"...
The cost of replacing Gino with his special skills in explosives detection, tracking, missing person searches, and more is very expensive. Once again, Planet Dog Foundation is providing support for a service dog. They have come together with theSpirit of Blue Foundation to award the Kane County Sherrif’s Office a $12,500 grant to acquire and train a new explosives detection K9 to replace the very special Geno.
The Planet Dog Foundation has awarded over a million dollars in funding to support dogs helping people in need.
“We dogs are happy and help each other because love is the most important part of our lives. When you give love,” she said, “You bring out love in others. If we come to Planet Earth, and people spend time with us, there will be fewer lonely people and more happy people.” - Miss Merrie, Queen of the Dogs
“But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.” -- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows Illustration by E.H. Shepherd
Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale at the Independent Publishers of New England Exhibits (IPNE)
If you are a New England librarian and headed to Boxborough, MA, for the NELAConvention (October19-21), we invite you to visit the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) exhibit where you will find Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.
If you are a New England book lover and are headed to the Boston Book Festival (BFF) 0n October 25, we invite you to the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) exhibit where you will also find Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.
Children's Literary Salon...New York Public Library
Saturday, November 1, 2014, 2PM, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium...Speaker: Howard Scherry...Hosted by Elizabeth Bird
Margaret Wise Brown & Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Parallels in Their Life, Comparison in Their Literature...free admission
The Past is Always Present
UPDATE: Y.A. Distopian Movies Keep Coming -- And Making Money...Variations and Reinterpretations of Books of the Past by Movies are Omnipresent ...
No one is safe...not family, nor friends, nor any of the good folks in Katniss' "hometown" -- District 12. Empire. Oppression, and teen warriors again prevail as the Hunger Games story of resistance and survival continues. Dystopia will mean box office dollars when this third episode (there will be one more) of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay-Part1, opens in theaters worldwide, starting on November 19 -- November 21 in the USA.
For some perspective on the Hunger Games series, take a look at this review from Salon by Andrew O'Hehir "Whose Revolution Is It It?"
"Much of the genius of the “Hunger Games” franchise lies in its portrayal of a dystopian future society that lacks any specific ideological character. Panem, the deep-future dictatorship that has apparently replaced present-day America after an unspecified combination of civil war, social meltdown and ecological catastrophe, has the semiotic appearance of fascism – white-helmeted storm troopers and barbed-wire walls – but is really more like an old-fashioned feudal society, concerned entirely with maintaining its internal order. In reviewing the first “Hunger Games” movie, I observed that the relentless media onslaught of the Information Age has been rolled back, in author Suzanne Collins’ fictional universe, to one TV network and one reality show. Politics has been stripped down too: There is nothing except Empire and Resistance."
The Hunger Games Films have thus far grossed over 1.5 billion dollars
The critics were generally hard on Divergent, but the Box office has been excellent - over 288 million dollars thus far - and two sequels will follow. Based on a very popular Y.A. series by Veronica Roth. Here is an excerpt from a review by Brad Keefe in ColumbusAlive.
... “Divergent” is an adaptation of a popular young adult fiction trilogy featuring a smart, underdog heroine who fights against a corrupt power system in a dystopian future.
If you haven’t read the books, you’ll see “Divergent” as a convoluted “Hunger Games” knock-off. If you have, you’ll find the production values and performances are solid. But the movie is still convoluted.
In the crumbling ruins of a near-future Chicago, a post-war society has established peace by creating five “factions” of the population based on character traits (brains, brawn, compassion, etc.). Teens are tested for their aptitude in these fields, but they can choose their own faction (as long as they don’t mind leaving their family).
It’s like society based on a high-school clique system, so it resonates with teens (along with themes of non-conformity). And our heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) embodies that moment of 'what do I do with my life' confusion." ....................................
Earlier this Fall, we had The Maze Runner, another YA movie set in a YA Dystopia. In less than a month, the Maze Runner has grossed over 83 Million dollars.
Also based on a successful book series (by James Dasher), it was described by Ben Kienigsberg in the International New York Times as a "perfectly serviceable entry in the young-adult dystopian sweepstakes. It combines elements of “Lord of the Flies” with the Minotaur and Orpheus myths, but it plays as something closer to “The Hunger Games” experienced through a dissociative fog. Much suspense comes from wondering which favored Hollywood twist the movie will employ...." .............................
Even if one adjustedthe figures for inflation etc, I doubt if the combined monies made by the books of Anderson, Dodson, St. Exuprey, the Brothers Grimm et al could compare with the box office receipts of these Y.A. movies.
More violence arrives in time for Christmas. The Hobbit, Battle of the 5 Armies opens on December 17. Here is a link to the trailer: Battle
If you've had enough of YA Dystopian Violence there is good news for children's films...
Boxtrolls is doing well and the Tale of Princess Kaguya, from Ghibli Studios is coming. Advance reports on Princess Kaguya suggest another outstanding film from the studio that gave us Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away.
Building Blocks in the past...Minecraft today and tomorrow
In case you were unaware of the scope of Minecraft, here is the opening of the excellent and comprehensive article by Stuart Dredge in the Guardian. The article is entitled: Minecraft movie will be 'large-budget' but unlikely to arrive before 2017. The article also contains videos that will take you into the digital world of Minecraft.
"What is Minecraft? It’s a game, obviously: one that its developer Mojang has sold nearly 54m copies of across computers, consoles and mobile devices so far.
But Minecraft is also an educational tool in schools through the MinecraftEduinitiative, and the driver for Block by Block, a partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme to get young people involved in planning public urban spaces, starting with a pilot in Kenya.
Minecraft is also one of YouTube’s most popular video categories – right up there with music – fuelling hugely popular channels..."
Amazon-Hachette Battle Continues with Authors United
Power, money, books, writers and control are all involved as this battlle continues...Here are excerpts from a New York Times article by David Streitfeld.
"Amazon is at war with Hachette, and it sometimes seems as if it has always been that way.
As a negotiating tool in the battle, which is over the price of e-books, Amazon is discouraging its customers from buying the publisher’s printed books. After six months of being largely cut off from what is by far the largest bookstore in the country, many Hachette writers are fearful and angry. So...they are trying a new tactic to get the ir work unshackled.
Authors United, a group of Hachette writers and their allies, is appealing directly to Amazon’s board. It is warning the board that the reputation of the retailer, and of the directors themselves, is at risk.
UPDATE...This battle has expanded to include many prominent writers who are not published by Hachette. David Streifeld continues his coverage in what has become a series in the New York Times. Here is an updated excerpt...
"Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics..."
The Hero of Color City
This film opened in early October to mediocre reviews,but very young kids seem to like it.You be the judge. Here is the trailer: Hero of Color City
Complimentary Holiday Dog Books for Therapy Reading Dogs…
Christmas is coming and Barking Planet Productions is sending complimentary reader copies of ourholiday book,Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, Volume 3 in the Planet of the Dogs series, to libraries and teachers participating in therapy reading dog programs and to therapy reading dogs owners and organizations.
To receive your copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is an illustrated first chapter fantasy-adventure book for children 6-12 and dog lovers of all ages.
Long, long ago, there were no dogs on planet Earth. It was during that time that two of Santa’s reindeer went missing and there could be no Christmas.
Far out in space is the Planet of the Dogs. Dogs have always lived there in peace and happiness.
When the dogs learned that there would be no more Christmas, they came down to planet earth to challenge the King of the North, free the reindeer from the Ice Castle, and save Christmas for children everywhere.
To read sample chapters, visit: www.planetofthedogs.net.
Insights on Visual Storytelling
Lizzy Burns is a proilfic, outspoken, caring and engaging blogger (A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy )
She usually reviews YA booksand strongly supports those she likes. I'm interested in younger readers, however, I find her YA reviews to be insightful and very lively reading.
I have excerpted comments on her emotional response to the Y.A. book and movie, If I Stay, and her insights into visual storytelling...
"Here is the thing. I cried at the trailers for this film. I cried when I read the book. I knew all the plot points. There were no surprises. And yet...I cries through the whole film.
Because sometimes, it's not what happens. It's the emotional journey. And no matter how many times you go on that journey, it remains heart wrenching...
One thing I like about visual storytelling is it can show me things, reveal things, that I may not have picked up in the book. And yes, sometimes this is because of changes in the adaptation, but i t's often about staying true to the spirit of the book if not the text. So, for me, the movie made me understand more how Mia viewed her father leaving his band to pursue a job that was more stable as something he did because of her younger brother, Teddy -- never realizing it was also for her.
The movie is true to the book, but something happened at one point where I both feared and hoped that a change had been made and I said to myself, please please please even though there was no way, no way, and it was just like in the book BUT STILL MY FOOLISH HEART, IT HOPED...."
Here the link to her review/article of If I Stay. When she isn't blogging, Elizabeth Burns is the Youth Services Librarian for the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center. Here is a link to her blog.
Nancy Houser has another excellent article that solves questions about feeding dogs and taking into account breed, age, health condition -- and she's not selling dog food, not pushing a brand. Here is an excerpt and a link:
"Dog diet is one of the most confusing aspects of taking care of your dog, a vital part of its care. Deciding on the correct dog diet and how to feed your dog is considered a highly complicated task.