Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Module 5: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Title: Graceling

Author: Kristin Cashore

Bibliography: Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Summary: Katsa is an assassin hired by her uncle, the king and is forced to torture or kill anyone who commits faults against the king. Katsa is special, she is Graced with the ability to kill like no other. However, when Po sneaks into the kingdom in search of his father, instead of killing him, Katsa begins to doubt her king. Together, Katsa and Po form the Council and help others in the fight against the tyrannical king.

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 1, 2008)
Gr 8 Up-In this debut fantasy novel, Cashore treats readers to compelling and eminently likable characters and a story that draws them in from the first paragraph. In Katsa's world, the "Graced," those gifted in a particular way, are marked by eyes that are different colors. Katsa's Grace is that she is a gifted fighter, and, as such, she is virtually invincible. She is in the service of her tyrannical uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, and she is forced to torture people for infractions against him. She has secretly formed the Council, which acts in the service of justice and fairness for those who have been accused and abused. Readers meet her as she is rescuing the father of the Lienid king, who has been abducted. The reasons for his capture are part of a tightening plot that Katsa unravels and resolves, with the help of Prince Po, the captive's grandson. He has his own particular Grace, and he becomes Katsa's lover and partner in what becomes a mortally dangerous mission. Cashore's style is exemplary: while each detail helps to paint a picture, the description is always in the service of the story, always helping readers to a greater understanding of what is happening and why. This is gorgeous storytelling: exciting, stirring, and accessible. Fantasy and romance readers will be thrilled.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next in the series, Fire. I love fantasy stories and liked reading about Katsa. I felt that her story could easily be translated into being an outcast, who is different and how she handles it. She keeps people at a distance, but in the end, gets the boy. I felt that they could have left out the sex scenes with Po, it wasn't appropriate for this age group and I don't think the story line would have lost anything if they left it out.

Activities: Students will write a creative paper on having a grace like Katsa in the story. Students will have to explain in detail what the grace is, how it benefits their life as well as how it hinders their life.

Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Bibliography: Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Summary: In a post-apocalyptic society made up of twelve districts, Katniss Everdeen lives in District Twelve, the farthest from the Capitol. Every year, two children from each district are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised fight-to-the-death competition, where the survivor wins food and prizes for his/her entire district. The year that Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is chosen, Katniss decides to take her place and with the help of Peeta, District Twelve's other competitor, must fight to survive the cruel Hunger Games.

Reviews: School Library Journal (September 1, 2008)
Gr 7 Up-In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 14 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: This series has been very popular in my school for about the past year and I finally had enough time to sit down and read it. I read all three books in the series in about a week. I loved the story, it was very different from the rest of the fantasy stories out there. While a lot of novels today are about dystopian societies, this one took it to a new level with the Hunger Games and how an entire district has to rely on one child. By the end of the first book, you are so involved in the story and what happens next that you just have to pick up Catching Fire. I talked my mother into reading the series and we had many a heated argument over whether Katsa should be with Peeta or Gale. I, of course, disagreed with the ending of the trilogy and really wanted her to end up with the other guy.

Activities: This would be a great book to include in a display with other futuristic stories and to introduce the idea of dystopian societies. As students read books such as The Giver in the seventh grade, you could introduce this book as well as others, such as Roar by Emma Clayton, Gathering Blue and The Messenger by Lois Lowry, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, etc.

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