Catching A Great Book

Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire. 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. September 2009.

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Katniss returns to District 12 after surviving the last Hunger Games to find many things have changed since she was in the arena. Her best friend and object of affection Gale has had a change of heart since watching Katniss and Peeta’s relationship in the arena. All of Katniss’ troubles at home become an afterthought when she realizes she is returning to the arena. President Snow announces the 75th anniversary of the rebellion, celebrated with the Quarter Quell. Which for the first time Hunger Games champions are sent back into the arena. Katniss makes it her goal to return the favor and keep Peeta alive. Their idea soon develops into a larger plan to overthrow the Capitol. Katniss and other tributes begin to band together to find a way to show the Capitol that they will no longer suffer for the Capitol’s entertainment.

The relationships between Katniss and others in the novel portray a broad range of interactions that teacher and student alike may experience in their everyday lives. The struggle to stand up for those we love and the ideals we believe to be just are intertwined throughout the novel. Katniss’ struggle against the greater power shows students that their voices can be heard and empowers them to stand up for what they believe in. Collins’ language is very accessible for adolescent readers but is by no means simplistic. Furthermore her messages are powerful and very relevant to the student reader.

Recommendations for Teachers
The book, Catching Fire has many elements that can be easily taught in a middle school or high school classroom. The idea of a post-apocalyptic world combining with a Dictator-like capitol opens many doors for discussion. Students should have read The Hunger Games before reading this book as it is the sequel. Teachers can ask their students how they would handle the certain situations displayed in the book that the characters Katniss and Peeta must face. Young love and sacrifice are a few of the main points in this book and be explored further in the classroom. Students can create character sketches of someone of their choice or possibly write a narrative from the view of a character other than Katniss. This will allow them to think further about the novel and what other characters may be thinking and doing in the book. Many essay questions can be asked that will allow the students to see the book in a different way and possibly change their views. An example could be, "Compare and contrast the characters Peeta and Gale. What actions do they do in the book that are positive/negative?" Questions like these will make room for discussion and possible debates with the students.

Books such as, Catching Fire that are part of a trilogy are great for middle and high school students because it will keep them reading. Books that lead into each other allow students to keep reading and do not stop after one book. The subject matter is relatable especially to teens as it should not be difficult to get the class talking and discussing the novel. Overall, this novel can open up many new ideas to students and get them thinking about what it means to find true love and the sacrifices for that love. It can teach students about respect and the importance of the freedoms they have today. Since the book is based in North America after the world has ended, the students can discuss what they think the world would be like if a few people survived an apocalypse. Overall, the book can show students an example of a world without the freedoms that they have today. This book is great for all teens and teachers can easily get a discussion going.

About Suzanne Collins
Author Suzanne Collins
Author Suzanne Collins

Collins started her writing career in 1991 as a writer for children's shows including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear and was the head writer for Scholastic's Clifford's Puppy Days. While working for the show Generation O!, Collins met children's author James Proimos and was inspired to write novels for young audiences as well. Her first novel was Gregor the Overlander, which turned into the Underland Chronicles, a series of five novels. This series is based toward younger audiences, suitable for middle school students. Collins says that her inspiration for this series came from Alice in Wonderland.

In 2008, Scholastic released Collins' newest novel, The Hunger Games, which was to be the first book in a trilogy of the same name. The sequel, Catching Fire was released in 2009 and Mockingjay, the final novel, was released in 2010. Collins has stated that her inspiration for the series came from the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, as well as her father's career in the United States Air Force, which she included in issues such as poverty, the affects of war and starvation.

Because of her widely popular The Hunger Games series, Collins was named one of Time magazine's most influential people of 2010. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Below are two video clips. The first is an excerpt of an interview with Collins, in which she discusses her material in The Hunger Games, compared to previous work. The second clip is a book trailer that Scholastic, the publishing company of Catching Fire, created.

Additional Resources:

--Aaron Mascarello, Bryce Carlton, Rachael Dole, Ryan Murphy

Other reviews by these authors: Jake Reinvented